What does giving mean to you? It's an interesting question.
I was recently at a private event of highly successful entrepreneurs and CEOs. We were together to network, collaborate, and learn from each other. Through the course of the day, we would do different breakout sessions.
During one of these breakouts, we got into a pretty deep discussion about poverty, helping others, and giving. For the first part of it, I sat back and listened. I was sitting with CEO's of billion dollar companies and wanted to hear what they said. I was surprised.
Almost the whole conversation around how to help people out of poverty and in other ways centered around giving money. It was all about how much money we should give and how it should be allocated, etc. Everything came back to money.
This was frustrating for me as if you have done any research around poverty since the welfare system was implemented in the United States, you will find that poverty has increased. And more money has been thrown at it through increased welfare benefits from the government and from private enterprise "to eradicate poverty" than any other cause. It's the definition of insanity, because, in my view, one of the biggest ways to start to change the poverty situation is the change the way people think about themselves. To change the conditioning people have gotten in these poverty areas. A conditioning that has told them from the time they are born that they can never make it and they will always be poor, the world is stacked against them, etc. When you are told these things your whole life by the influences around you from parents to peers to politicians, what do you expect to happen?
Don't get me wrong - it does take money to take on a challenge such as poverty, but it is not all about money.
After a little while, I couldn't take it anymore and piped up. I said, "So far in this discussion, all of the solutions put forward and discussed are surrounding throwing money at the problem. Have you thought about other things than money as the solution? From volunteering your time and teaching what you have learned in building your businesses, to mentoring non-profits to become more effective and efficient in their service? There is a lot you can do besides just give money."
The group got quiet for a few seconds and then the CEO of one of the largest companies spoke and said "You're right. We have to think of giving as more than just money."
The whole exercise made me examine for myself what giving really means to me. For me, giving is a combination of giving to causes I passionately believe in that I know will put that money to work and get real results and also the ability to volunteer my experience and talents to help people. Even if that is just helping one person understand their true potential. To me, it is still giving back to this world.
How about you? When was the last time you took a step back and defined what giving really meant to you and examined how you can have the biggest impact in your efforts to give? There is no better time than now to do so...
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