When it comes to influence, generosity is a powerhouse.

Want to make a difference? Give more than you take. Want to change lives? Focus on the needs of others, and do everything you can to meet them. Whether it’s coaching, leading, loving or forgiving, generosity works.

As a communicator and coach, I’m often asked for help. Some people send me manuscripts or proposals to critique. Others email questions, asking for my direction or feedback. Each time I receive a request, I’m honored. I love nothing more than being a cheerleader on someone’s journey.

But in the past few months, I’ve noticed an additional quality that keeps generosity a powerful force. Generosity isn’t your only asset. To better explain, allow me to share two stories:

Story #1: Several months ago, an acquaintance sent me a speaking video to review. This happens often, and my heart always wants to help. But with my current work schedule and responsibilities at home, I usually have to say “no.” I just don’t have the time or resources to review everything I receive.

But this time I said “yes.” The request came from someone I believe in and wanted to encourage. So I intentionally blocked off an afternoon, cancelled the day’s writing time, and pulled out the video. After more than an hour reviewing, I wrote up what I hoped was a thoughtful critique, including both praise and suggestions. After another quick review, I shot it off over email.

Weeks passed without a reply. Perhaps my email was lost in transit. Perhaps life turned chaotic at the time of our correspondence. I understand. After all, I’ve failed to reply to emails at times, and I certainly didn’t do it for a “thank you.” But my ignored attempt to help did cause me pause.

Story #2: A reader sent me a message on Facebook with a writing-related question. His question was brief, one requiring no more than 10 minutes to answer. I typed up a quick response, offered a couple suggestions and resources, and pressed send. No big deal.

Within hours, he wrote a reply. His message spanned a few sentences, but might be one of the most gracious replies I’ve ever received. Simply, he wanted me to know he didn’t take for granted the time and energy it took to answer his question. He valued my insight, appreciated my generosity in sharing it, and ended with two simple words: Thank you.

Two stories occurring almost simultaneously. One cost me hours. The other only minutes. But the opposing responses reminded me of 10 lepers, and the one who took the time to say “thank you.” It wasn’t so much about the person who didn’t reply to me, but the “thank you’s” I’ve failed to go back and give.

The moral? If generosity builds a tribe, gratitude sustains it.

I have yet to meet a person of influence who wasn’t mentored on their way up. Every leader I follow, every world changer I’ve watched benefited from another’s influence. Someone who took the time to answer questions, offer advice, and provide both critique and encouragement. For six years, I’ve been buoyed by a team that has mentored, challenged, encouraged me more than any other team I’ve been a part of. Any current success I enjoy is, in large part, a result of their investment.

But have I told them so?

Generosity unacknowledged smells like entitlement. And entitlement will staunch the flow of opportunities like a dam a river.

No one owes you anything. No one has to read your manuscript, comment on your blog, write your endorsement, make that key introduction, or appreciate your art.

No one.

On the occasion when someone generously invests in you, receive it as the gift it is. Be responsive. Grateful.

Your message is better for it.

Who has been generous with you? Tell us a little about him or her in the comments. 

 

 

 

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