"We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give."
-Sir Winston Churchill, British Politician 1874 - 1965
Are You a Giver or a Taker?
To give: to bestow by formal action; deliver or to yield to another.
To take: to get into one’s hands or possession; grasp, seize, capture, or defeat.
How would your friends, family, or co-workers characterize you -- Are you a giver or a taker?
Here is an example of an individual who attended one of my training sessions a few years ago. She was demanding, self-centered, a full-time taker and a chronic complainer. Nothing was good enough. She always wanted more from others and was not willing to give anything back.
Based on her behavior, how willing would you be to help or give to this person? Most would respond: not much.
Interestingly enough, the woman labeled me a taker. And in her situation, she was partially correct.
Think about it. When you come across an individual or group of individuals who are being demanding and who are acing like takers, what is your natural response? To withdraw or limit your interaction with them. You know intuitively that you will never be able to please or satisfy them.
Now I’m not suggesting we all shun or ignore these individuals but the impact or outcome their behavior has on others is obvious. The only person who seems oblivious to this truth is the taker.
The giver, on the other hand, does not expect anything in return for his or her acts of kindness and giving. The experience of giving and the ability to give is rewarding, in itself.
We are all familiar with this longstanding truth: "Give and you will receive." Isn’t it interesting that what takers want the most is what they get least and what givers want least is what they get the most? With the act of giving to others, people generally want to give more to us in return.
But beware of the taker in a giver’s clothing. True giving does not expect anything in return. To give for the purpose of getting back is the value of a taker.
I recall an individual who gave of her time and resources to a needy cause and person. She was later very upset with the receiver’s group and the key individuals in it because she did not get enough thanks and acknowledgement for her acts. If your giving has strings attached, it’s not true giving -- it is an exchange of services or products. That’s fine, but don’t call it giving.
Our lives are mirrors of our actions and thoughts. The events in our lives are a reflection of our attitudes and approaches. If you read about the wealthiest individuals in the world, you will see a very strong trend: The majority give a very high percentage of their wealth away in the second half of their lives. In fact, their charitable foundations and their giving become two of their primary purposes in life. True givers are energized by the act of being able to give and contribute.
We all have different ways we can give; each way is important, unique, and valuable. Some can give financial resources, others can give time. Still others give compliments and encouragement. Sharing knowledge and wisdom are ways to give.
Please don’t beat yourself up because you are able to give only in certain ways. Embrace the ways you can give.
Recently one of the most successful charity fundraisers (he has personally helped raise $100 million) stated that those who give time don’t usually give money and those who can’t give time usually give financial resources. He stated that he needed and was thankful for both.
Giving can be therapeutic. I can’t recall the individual’s name, but many years ago, I learned of a physiologist who treated patients suffering from depression by having them carry out acts of kindness and giving toward others. He helped them improve their emotional condition by getting them to focus outward on others, rather than on their own internal state.
Even your health and wellness can increase or decrease through your habits of giving or taking. Remember that taker I mentioned earlier? She was always sick or recovering from some illness. The health link to attitude was acknowledged by Norman Cousins in his book, Anatomy of an Illness.
And just last week, a medical study confirmed that a person’s arterial and cardiac health improves when he or she is having fun, laughing, and enjoying emotional happiness.
The opposite is true when a person is angry, serious, or unhappy. In fact, the happy individuals had up to a 30% increase in circulatory capacity over those who were angry, serious, or upset. It seems even your arteries know if you are a giver or a taker.
So again I ask: Are you a giver or a taker?
Over the next few days, pay attention to your thinking, actions, and conduct. Are you in the mindset of a true giver -- giving without strings and without expecting anything in return -- or are you a taker, draining yourself and others of emotional happiness?
To help you on this journey, I would like to recommend a couple of resources that can help you or others become even more giving. In our experience, many takers behave that way because they have an emotional vacuum or because some personal need is not being met. They try to fill the need by getting, rather than giving. That need can be based on low self-confidence or self-worth levels. Consider the Self-Worth Inventory as a great starting point.
Also if our lives don’t reflect our core values, we are out of sync with our needs -- and that can drive us to be takers, rather than givers. Confirm your values using a values assessment, and then determine whether your life reflects your core values. Not living your core values can contribute to your being more of a taker than a giver.
True giving is energizing and healthy. And it contributes to the improvement of others’ circumstances at some level.
Are you a Giver or a Taker?
1. If we asked your friends, family, and co-workers, would they say you are a giver or a taker?
2. Are you happy with the answer to question one?
3. Being a giver or a taker can be situational, depending on your upbringing, family, etc. Is that possibly true for you? If so, what is causing you to hang on to that old programming?
4. Giving can take many forms. Based on what you know you can give most or give best, think about a couple ways that you can increase your giving.
5. Confirm your self-confidence. Value assessments or assessments targeting self-worth may help you in this area. This assessment process can help you to become more grounded and centered, so you are free to be more giving.
6. Where in your life might you be a taker? If this applies, what steps can you take in your life to decrease being a taker?
7. Never expect something in return for your act of giving. If you do, you are a taker in disguise.
8. As you become more proactive in your giving, pay attention to how that makes you feel, emotionally and physically.
9. Giving should not be a burden; it should be energizing. Are you giving out of guilt, obligation, and/or duty?
10. Your level and ability to give is unique to yourself. Never compare how and what you give by what others are doing. Accept what you can give as okay.
Until next time, keep Living On Purpose.
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