How Some Of The Best Leaders Seek Inspiration To Give To Others

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I’ll be honest: As a young entrepreneur in my 20s, I didn’t give back much — nor did I look for ways to help the people around me. I was so focused on figuring out how to make my own efforts successful that I often forgot about how I could help others. I felt stretched thin, and I was just trying to navigate a confusing, ever-changing industry.

I’ve been fortunate, however, to have people and inspirations over time that changed the way I valued money, as well as how I spent my time. I now prioritize helping others because I realize I didn’t get here all by myself. At this point in my life, my success can also be attributed to the people who’ve been alongside me on the journey. They’ve not only inspired me to my best performance, but they’ve also inspired me to pay my good fortune forward.

I’m lucky to speak in front of large groups and surround myself with some amazing leaders in different industries. When I define “amazing leaders,” I’m not just talking about billionaires with lots of money. I’m referring to the leaders who have not only achieved financial success, but have also surrounded themselves with great people and earned others’ respect.

One of the biggest similarities they share: their commitment to giving and helping. Writing a big check to add your name to a stadium may feel like giving back, but I’m talking about giving in a way that can make a massive difference in somebody’s life. Here are three things that contribute to developing that type of giving mentality:

1. Look for inspiration in everyday life.

Recently, I was watching a sermon by a local church in town, The Crossing, where many of my friends and neighbors attend. The pastor shared a message about giving to the people who need help the most. He then went on to identify something that’s a hot topic affecting people in poverty: medical debt.

After explaining that medical debt is one of the leading causes of financial bankruptcy, he noted that about half of all debt collection is related to unpaid medical expenses. Living with unpaid medical debt can lead to threatening letters from creditors, a ruined credit rating, and even the embarrassment of collection agencies hounding family and friends. To combat that, the church launched a campaign to work with a nonprofit, RIP Medical Debt, to purchase the medical debt of people in collections who weren’t able to pay.

The church’s goal was to abolish the medical debt in collections for anybody below the poverty line in 31 Missouri counties, equating to almost half of the state’s medical debt. I was surprised to learn the following week that the community had raised more than $400,000 within days and would be able to abolish $43 million worth of Missouri medical debt from not only our county, but also surrounding counties. Religious or not, leaders can take something from this example and many others that occur in their everyday lives. By assessing the real problems people face, you can find ways to incorporate a giving mentality.

2. Make an effort to read up about a giving mentality. 

I’ve been fortunate to get to know John Ruhlin, the author of Giftology. He’s consistently educated me on developing a giving mentality and looking at what the person on the receiving end of my generosity would appreciate. It’s easy for us all to slip into a mindset of “knowing best,” but as any leader worth her salt would tell you, we often assume incorrectly how our actions and words can impact others. Giving back is no exception.

Ruhlin has also pointed out other books to me to help me expand my perception of what “giving” looks like. Two titles I truly enjoyed were The Go-Giver and Give and Take. Every time I meet a leader I view as someone who looks out for others and gives back, there’s a nearly 90% chance that he or she has read one or both of these books. Giving isn’t always natural. Rather than beat yourself up about that, be deliberate about learning and creating habits that put others first. Not only will your guilty conscience go away as you give back, but you’re also more likely to make it a permanent part of your outlook.

3. Giving leaders surround themselves with leaders with the same mentality.

My last company’s co-founder — now its CEO — is probably one of the most empathetic and giving people I’ve had the pleasure of being around. Before working with her, I had been steeped in a culture that revolved around viewing the company’s CEO as almost godlike. Leadership seemed more like a dictatorship, not something that would benefit from a people-first mentality.

Being around her for years taught me to consistently think about the people around me first. As I look at the leaders I respect the most, regardless of industry, I realize that their viewpoint has a lot to do with looking in the same direction as the people closest to them. I look to their right and to their left, and I see that they have people around them who are incredible. Like Jim Rohn, I’ve said countless times that you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

I believe that goes beyond a hard five, too — I’ve been heavily influenced by leaders I respect who have helped me think more about others than about myself. Listening to keynote speakers and talking to consultants and others who have walked the talk has influenced me and reinforced some of the lessons I learn on a daily basis. I encourage leaders to think about the people who can help them become better versions of themselves, in their inner circle or not.

Developing a giving mentality as a leader won’t just boost your generosity. It can also affect how you treat the people around you, both inside and outside your company. There’s nothing better than to hear someone sing a leader’s praises, applauding how much an executive cares about the people around him or her. It takes consistent inspiration, education, and effort — but it’s also how you become a true leader.

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Post Author: Loknath Das

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