Give a Little. Get a Lot. | Generosity Matters.

Doing isn’t giving, although doing is required.

At work we have jobs to do. The better we do them, the more likely we’ll be valued and rewarded. That’s true even if we:

  • Dislike the tasks we’re assigned
  • Know  the job is a wrong fit
  • Question the company’s direction
  • Work with uncommitted people
  • Don’t see growth opportunities

It’s as possible to succeed in a sorry job as it is in a fabulous one, provided you do your job as required.

But that’s a bummer. Few of us want to be a star at a job we dislike, unless we can turn it into something significantly better. Generosity of spirit may be just the ticket.

Giving v. getting

When we get hired, the first thing we say is ” I got the job” as though it’s something we now own. Actually, it’s the opposite.

Instead, we’ve been given the opportunity to serve an organization so it can succeed. Our individual success is a by-product of the quality of our performance…what we give.

Jobs look different when you see them as  opportunities to give. It starts with  the attitude you bring to your tasks, no matter how pleasant or unpleasant they are. Consider these comparisons:

Downer coworkers (the self-servers):

  • Complain about everything and everyone
  • Find fault with every decision, policy, and assignment
  • Ridicule the boss and some peers covertly
  • Brag about how they shortcut their work
  • Bad-mouth the company

Upbeat coworkers (the givers):

  • Focus on the good in others and reinforce it
  • Look at the upside of decisions and support them
  • Commit to performing at their best out of personal pride
  • Treat the boss and their peers with respect, even during disagreements
  • Offer to help struggling coworkers out of kindness
  • Show regard for the company and gratitude for their employment

There are important, often unexpected, benefits to working with a giver’s attitude. Even the smallest gift of kindness and generosity turns into a benefit that touches many.

Cause and effect

There are endless opportunities to turn the drudgery of any job into an uplifting experience. Here are a two examples of ways to give a little and get a lot:

1.  Your job involves seemingly endless spreadsheets, so you’re a wiz at Excel but your coworker isn’t. When she’s struggling to meet a spreadsheet deadline, you share your knowledge and help her make it. (Your self-esteem goes up, you strengthen a relationship, and you support the team.)

2. You’re a veteran member of a work group that just added a new, talented but inexperienced member. He’s trying to get acclimated but it’s not going well. You offer to be a peer-mentor for him until he’s settled. (You rediscover your leadership skills, build inclusiveness, and set a positive example.)

Each gift from the heart makes things better for others. In turn you reinforce your sense of self-worth.

Generosity, whether time, effort, or money, is personal and individual. We give what we can and usually get back what we don’t expect.

Journalist John Blackstone interviewed, Ari Nessel (on CBS Sunday Morning 3/23/14) who became wealthy selling real estate in the Dallas area. Nessel believes the best kind of philanthropy comes from small monetary gifts. So he created a foundation, Pollination Project, providing seed money for start-up charities. Daily, he chooses someone just getting started to receive a $1,000 donation, his lifetime commitment of giving.

Nessel’s attitude about any kind of giving is that, ” …transformation happens on the fringes…and doesn’t happen on the large scale… And so it becomes a movement.”

At the end of the interview, Blackstone says to Nessel: “So money can buy happiness?”

He replied, “Generosity can buy happiness.”

Generosity matters.

Nessel’s  viewpoint also applies at your job. You can affect the culture of your workplace  through each gift of kindness you give. When that happens, it also makes your job feel better and you seed a movement.

Giving generously of your time and talent positions you to discover the value embedded in your every work experience. A generous spirit is infections and attracts contagious good.

 

 

Feeling Thankful or Resentful? 5 Attitudes to Fuel Job Happiness

thanksful 4093883697_ae2b8d84e2_mA job is a relationship. When we sign on, we marry its requirements and the family that comes with it–a boss, coworkers, and customers.

A job can bring bliss or frustration on any given day. The only constant in our jobs is us. The skills we bring, our attitudes, and the actions we take make an indelible impact on our job happiness.

So, what’s your take?

Call it chemistry or culture, every workplace has a vibe. It may be upbeat, sour, defensive, or exciting. Whatever the tone, we are prone to be affected by it.

For some reason, it’s easier to see the bleak side of things, especially when those around us are harping about the:

  • unfair workload
  • self-serving boss
  • crumby equipment
  • frustrating customer complaints

Where we work isn’t supposed to be paradise. A workplace is more like a laboratory where we experiment and test new ideas, applications, and improvements. It’s a place where change, challenge, and disruption are the rule rather than the exception.

This realization can help us recalibrate our expectations about the swirl of things around us. Instead of resenting them, there’s reason to be thankful.

The gratitude edge

Getting happy at work means reconfiguring the way we see things and recognizing the asset value of the challenges and personalities that make up our surroundings. Gratitude for the opportunity to be in the mix is actually good for us.

Mary MacVean of the Tribune Newspapers, wrote in a December 31, 2012 article:

…if we developed the discipline [of gratitude] on a regular basis, year-round, research shows we’d be happier and suffer less depression and stress. We’d sleep better and be better able to face our problems.”

Then she quotes Robert Emmons, a University of California at Davis professor who has been studying gratitude since 1998:

…it’s one of the few things that ‘can measurably change people’s lives. Gratitude implies humility–a recognition that we could not be who we are or where we are in life without the contributions of others.’

The issue of humility is a big one: It’s about recognizing that we have the job we’re in because, along the way and even now, other people:

  • encouraged us
  • gave us training
  • attested to our abilities
  • had our backs
  • gave us opportunity
  • lent a hand

Our successes are not just about us–our deeds, our smarts, and our promise. They also comes through others.

5 Strategies

We all have down days at work, days when we’re not sure we’re in the right job. That’s just reality.

In total, though, our progress comes from the series of tests that we overcome with the help of bosses and colleagues who give us a shot, promote our capabilities, and help us move forward.

Attitudes of gratefulness need to be practiced. To increase your job happiness, you can start by being thankful for:

  1. The comfort of a paycheck, even if it’s less than what you may need or want. It’s predictability is a secure foundation for the financial and career choices you make going forward.
  2. Essential job duties that help you master or expand your skills while learning how they impact the business and insights that can position you for another job within or outside your company
  3. A difficult boss who requires you to become more assertive, a better negotiator, more thick skinned, a better performer, or a more strategic thinker
  4. Trusted workmates who encourage you, teach you tricks of the trade, help you get out of your shell, walk you through disappointments, offer friendship
  5. Good working conditions with current technologies, safe equipment, comfortable facilities, and benefits

Seek thankfulness

Every job doesn’t meet our every need, but there are always good features we can be thankful for. The grass is not always greener, so we need to feed and water the grass we have under our feet.

The more you can grasp and internalize the reasons you have to be grateful in your job, the happier you will be. Smile…that helps too!

Photo from from Ateupamateur via Flickr