Give Yourself a Gift Today

By giving someone else a gift.

On the heels of my last post asking for change I offer this up…

I was recently in Safeway (Grocery Store) checking out early on a Sunday morning. There was a Safeway employee behind me in line. She looked like she worked in the bakery or deli given her hat and apron. I smiled and said hello. She put a diet coke up on the belt behind my big pile of groceries. I grabbed her coke, she looked at me like I was nuts, and asked the cashier to scan it and add it to my bill. I turned to the worker, handed her the diet coke, and said, “I thought I’d save you a few minutes and a buck or two…have a wonderful rest of your day”. That crazy look turned into one of gratitude…almost stunned. I left the store with an extra skip in my step.


Have you ever truly paid attention to how good it feels to give someone something or to do something for someone? Perhaps something unexpected or something you recognized they needed or just wanted. It feels good, right?! But, we are busy. We are bogged down in our own muck…mentally and physically.  Busy at home with projects or the kids and far too many meetings at work.  Another day has flown by….”Damn, I meant to call him/her”. “I know my wife needed my attention, but I have too much going on to deal with that now”. Or how about this one, “No one has done anything for me so why should I do anything for anyone else”. (Think about this last one as it relates to my last blog about the racial divide)  We get so wrapped up in our own crap that we miss opportunities to feel as if we have done good today and thus impact another person.

Let me be clear.  I am a strong advocate for getting involved in the community and for giving back. I love showering my wife and kids with gifts…mostly gifts of love and togetherness but yes material gifts too.  My wife as my witness, I ask myself a fundamental question everyday, “What can I do today to make Angel’s life easier?” Most days I find a way. Notice my intent has everything to do with her. However, I am flipping the script a little bit here. How? I want to focus on the feeling and benefit that the giver gets, not the receiver.   I believe that if we tapped into this wonderful feeling than there would be a lot more giving around us everyday. I get it, seems a little backwards but think about it for a minute.

Let me explain a little further.

If you have really paid attention to how you feel when giving, you have realized that it feels amazing. It fulfills us in unspeakable ways. I want you to put a focus on this. Why?  Because we are human and we tend to do things more often that make us feel good. I often find myself coaching an individual or a group of people to be more giving and I say , “It will be you who gets the greatest reward”. And, that’s ok.   Perhaps it is even better because then that feeling will drive more giving. It is not a bad thing to focus on what you get out of it. It doesn’t cheapen the intent or change the result. It could actually produce more frequent positive results. Who said something similar, Pavlov?

I suppose I should qualify what I mean by giving a little bit. The giving I am talking about does include volunteering, donating, etc but I am actually wanting you to focus on “smaller” acts of giving….In Life and Leadership.

 In Life…

-Pick up just one piece of trash you see in your community today

-Look the cashier in the eye today and ask them how their day is going

-Give your child 10 minutes of being 100% present with them (harder than you think)

-Listen intently to your spouse about how their day was

-Forgive someone

-Give someone a hug that obviously needs one


In Leadership….

-Write that hand written note to your employee…you know, the one that whacky consultant Ted advised you write months ago. And you said you would but didn’t.

-Take 20 minutes today simply to walk around and ask how people are doing

-Take a random employee out to lunch today

-Offer your time in mentoring an employee that has been reported to you to be struggling

-Give an employee “The gift of truth”. More on this in a future blog but essentially stop sugarcoating your feedback to employees and give them the feedback that you have avoided giving because you think you are going to hurt their feelings and it makes you uncomfortable…you both will be better off for doing so.

-Reward an outstanding employee with recognition that you know means something specific to them….a movie ticket, time off with their family, a gas card because they have a long commute or simply a thank you from a top tier executive.

All of the above will make you feel better as a human being. And the acts will enrich the lives of the recipients. Notice, that the large majority of them do not require money or a lot of time….two things that often prohibit us from giving.

Open your eyes and ears today at work and at home. There will be opportunities to “Give Yourself a Gift” at many of the corners you turn. And pay attention to how you feel after you give. I am confident that if more of us tapped into these feelings that our world would be filled with more kindness, stronger leaders, more trusting relationships, and more smiles 🙂

Serendipitous…I wrote this post on the plane heading to Florida on business.  I sat next to two elderly women.  As I got up after the plane landed I simply offered to get their bags down form the overhead bin…they allowed me to do so and said thank you.  About 15 minutes later I was waiting at the rental car desk in the airport and one of the ladies walked up to me and said, “Thanks again for getting my bag down.  How kind and thoughtful of you.”  I walked away with an extra skip in my step.  And, I have to say this on the heels of my last post.  The woman was white and while I do not assume that she held any prejudices against me I have to think that others witnessed a kind act of a black man towards a white woman.  I hate to even have to break it down like this but this is the kind of action I asked for from all of us in my last last post. These acts are infectious and can have a greater impact on our society as a whole.

Simple, yet profound lesson today that will enhance your life and whoever is on the receiving end.  I ask that you read this, do something today for someone and then comment on this blog about what you did so that we can all learn from your example of giving.

Stay True,


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  1. It’s evening now and I just finished readin this post. Wonderful, and it couldn’t agree more. I started my day today by texting some co workers to see if I could pick up coffee for them on my way in, since I was stopping anyway and for some reason the lines at dunkin on Friday mornings are always longer so I figured I could save them some time. I should mention that I avoid lines at most any cost, but I was running about an hour early so I had the time, they might not have. Once I was in line I noticed outside a man with a walker and a scruffy beard, he looked alone. I asked the guy behind me in line if he would mind saving my spot, he said yes no problem, I went outside to greet the man I saw who was now sitting down, and offered to get him a beverage/ food if he would like anything. He initially said no, and I said oh your friend must be in there getting something for you. Then he said actually if you could get me an iced tea with creme and sugar that would be great. I said I’ll be right back. After waiting and getting his drink, I brought it out to him and then went back for my stuff. A girl inside saw what I did and said in passing “that was a really nice thing to do”. I hadn’t thought of it that way. I was waiting in line and ordering for a bunch of people already, it just seemed like the thing to do- I also hate waiting in line and this would kill some line time(benefit to me). I ended up giving the guy a ride down the street, his destination was literally on my route to work, I drive by the caring kitchen every day and I help there at thanksgiving every year. Meanwhile I spilled my co workers beverages in the back and after spending some time talking to robin I was on my way back to the coffee shop and then to work… At normal time 🙂 so munch for early but despite the spilled coffee in my car I felt great all day and I know the man appreciated the ride. He said my seat was comfortable, he had been used to sitting on the ground, with a broken hip none the less… He needed me more than I needed him but it was I that did get the greater benefit of our time together this morning.

  2. This was such a good post. I love doing random acts of kindness.and I really think it lifts my spirits.its the perfect and safest drug out there 🙂

  3. Kindness produces a ripple effect. When speaking to someone I almost always try to pay them a complement. There are good qualities in EVERYONE. We just need to find them instead of dwelling on ourselves. Complements and acts of kindness cost NOTHING! Sometimes all people want is acknowledgment. Beauty is much more than physical. It’s what’s inside that counts.

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