The One Ingredient Your Message Can’t Live Without

Aug 28, 2012

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. 

 

 

 

36 Comments

  1. Stacy Voss

    I have a friend named Michele. Maybe you’ve heard of her before. She’s incredibly generous with her time, love, and wisdom towards me. In fact, she generously gave me such a beautiful gift this past week that it brought me to tears. It was a gift of time, validation and so, so much more. It takes a lot to leave me speechless, but this incredible treasure did just that.

    We all know this, but let me reiterate to your readers: Michele Cushatt lives out what she says. I’m so grateful for you, friend!

    Reply
    • Michele

      Wow. Didn’t expect that. Thank you, Stacy. It’s a privilege to partner with you. You have such a gift!

      Reply
  2. Dustin W. Stout

    Wow. “If generosity builds a tribe, gratitude sustains it.”

    I think that quote will be one of my new favorites. I may even decide to make a viral meme of it (lol)! Great thoughts here Michelle. Thank you! I’m so glad I found your site!

    Reply
    • Michele

      Thanks, Dustin. I’m so glad you stopped by!

      Reply
  3. Sarah Beckman

    Michele!
    You have been gracious with your comments and feedback to me. Really – who in the world helps like you do? No One! You are amazing, and I know God sees your kindness and devotion to others. You get what you give, and I hope that you always feel uplifted and encouraged for the gifts and talents you have, and those same talents you help to shine in others. SOMEDAY, I will get my book written, and you will be the chief initiator of that project.

    Thank you God for making Michele, a chief encourager!
    warmly,
    sarah

    Reply
    • Michele

      Grateful for you, Sarah. And I CAN’T WAIT to read that book!

      Reply
  4. gregg farah

    “Generosity unacknowledged smells like entitlement.” Killer quote! And as others have already mentioned, you have modeled generosity to me. Thank you for your example!

    Reply
    • Michele

      An honor, Gregg. Excited for you and your new books!

      Reply
  5. Jason Raitz

    Absolutely great post! I’ve tried to make it a habit of sending hand written cards to those who have helped along the way. Amazing how much they mean to me and I hope they mean something to those I send them too! Thanks for writing these thoughts today!

    Reply
    • Michele

      I’ve been trying to do more of the same. Hand-written notes are rare anymore. Good for you, Jason.

      Reply
  6. Mary DeMuth

    Terrific post. And I’ve experienced the same thing. Though it’s sometimes overwhelming, I try very hard to thank people who help me. And I’m always appreciative when people share their gratitude.

    Reply
    • Michele

      When I think of the waves of generosity I’ve received, it IS overwhelming. But I’m oh-so-grateful. Learning to say “thank you” individually, but also to say “thank you” by doing the same for someone else. P.S. Thank you, Mary, for your light. 🙂

      Reply
  7. Shannon Milholland

    Wow, Michelle. What a great message! It reminds me of a book I just heard of called “Bless Back” by Julie Saffrin. I haven’t read it yet but the premise is to make a conscious effort to thank those who’ve shaped your journey.

    Reply
    • Michele

      Thanks for the book recommend, Shannon!

      Reply
  8. Christin @ Joyful Mothering

    Sarah Mae (sarahmae.com) and Amy Bayliss (amybayliss.com) have been those influences to me. They have helped me in a major way get where I am right now – and they continue to help me. I adore them!

    Reply
    • Michele

      Glad you provided the links so I can go visit. 🙂

      Reply
  9. alex marestaing

    So true. When my first book came out, there were a couple of bloggers that championed my book. I didn’t ask them to do the interviews they did, or promote the book on their websites. I had never met them, but they helped so much in getting the word out on multiple occasions. I couldn’t help but be grateful. People like that deserve our gratitude and we should never take them for granted.

    Reply
  10. Lori Nelson Spielman

    I absolutely love this post, Michele. THANK YOU! Off now to write an overdue thank you note…

    Reply
  11. John Richardson

    I love your point about it only taking ten minutes. Sometimes we get so busy, we don’t even have time for a 10 minute reply. Unfortunately, I find myself putting off replies as they show up on my phone, so I can sit down and write a responsive answer when I get home. The error in that is that I’ll have time when I get home. I’m having to learn how to respond quickly when a message comes in. A short reply is better than NO reply.

    Reply
  12. Charles Specht

    Great stuff, Michele. Nothing changes hearts like gratitude. I know from personal experience that when someone says thank you, and that they genuinely are thankful, I will bend over backwards for them the next time as well.

    Reply
    • Michele

      Isn’t that the truth!

      Reply
  13. Tammy

    Beautiful post. Thank you for the reminder! I always try to be overly thankful, and am surprised by how often i hear deepfelt appreciation for it. Unfortunately, many people don’t take the time to show how much it means to be offered advice or help. You are always incredibly helpful in answering questions, and I appreciate it!!

    Reply
  14. Dawn

    I tweeted part of your post and gave you complete credit for the words.

    Reply
  15. Ann Voskamp

    Gift.
    All gift.

    It’s staggering, isn’t it, Michelle? Lays. one. right. low.

    John 3: 27 — No one receives anything unless given to Him from heaven.

    Just — *thank you.* That you came. That you cheered. That you encouraged. That you served. That you helped in countless ways.

    You make me want to put in 10,000 hours and figure it out.
    I can never thank you enough for mentoring… for being such a friend.

    Indebted,
    Ann

    Reply
    • Michele

      And in the allowing of me to cheer, YOU blessed ME. So thank you.

      Reply
  16. Jonnia Smith

    Thank you for this reminder! Gratitude is a powerful thing.
    I’ll be sharing this post.

    Reply
  17. Lucille Zimmerman

    Thanks for the post Michele.

    I’ve felt the same way recently. I spent weeks working on a specific post that a blogger asked me to contribute. I never heard back. Then I got another request from her that I ignored.

    I’ve heard that story of the one Leper coming back is the very definition of praise.

    Reply
    • Michele

      I love that … the very definition of praise.

      Reply
  18. Jennie Allen

    I want you to know I immediately read this and dug through emails and Facebook to respond with gratitude!! Love you so and your heart and OH THANK YOU for serving me with your gifts over and over! I am grateful!!!!!

    Reply
    • Michele

      Jennie, you make me smile. Again and again I see you DO what the Spirit prompts and inspires. You are courageous and faithful. And it’s my privilege to collaborate with you. Thank you. Love you right back!

      Reply
  19. Jon Stolpe

    Great stuff here today, Michele. Thanks for the timely reminder.

    Reply
  20. Change Volunteer

    I think I have always been thanking you for great posts! And if not, here is a Big Thank You Michele! Love all your posts.

    Reply
    • Michele

      And if ever there was a day I needed to hear it, it was today. THANK YOU for reading my friend, and for taking the time to let me know it mattered. Means much.

      Reply
  21. Wendy Brooks

    Back on July 6th, I sent you a Facebook inbox message with a link to my most recent blog post. Basically asking for your first general impression, suggestions, etc. Before the day was over you had graciously sent me back a reply with exactly the type of feedback that I was looking for. You definitely did not have to do any of that, but yet you made a choice to unselfishly give of your time and priceless expertise to help me. I hope when I replied to you that evening, you could feel just how appreciative I was for every idea, tip, and suggestion you provided. I took your suggestions, and implemented them immediately. My blog traffic increased, and I am pressing along with completing my first book. Although I am a nurse, and nursing has been good to me. There comes a time when you know your season is up, and its time to walk ((run)) in your calling which for me happens to be full-time missions ministry. Just so you know…you inspire me. Maybe I didn’t say that exactly right. YOU INSPIRE ME!! Through your writing you impart care and concern. Your transparency is what this world needs. So for all you do, thank you. You are paving the way for others, and we do not take that for granted.

    Reply
    • Michele

      Wendy, my friend, you are (& were!) so gracious, and I was more than honored to help. I’m glad it made a difference! How exciting to hear about your blog traffic and the in-progress book. Press on! And thank you for your kind comments. I’m humbled and grateful.

      Reply

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