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.”
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.