The Sweetness of Giving

Apr 2, 2013

She turned an ordinary request into something extraordinary. And delicious.

Kelly makes toffee. Melt-in-your-mouth, make-you-dream-of-heaven toffee. Various flavors, sizes. Traditional English. Cookies and Cream. Chai Tea Latte. Espresso Bean. Flavors that scandalize my (God help me) toffee-loving taste buds. I heard about her business from her daughter and soon went to her website for more information.

It is impossible to overstate my love of this golden confection. Sure, I wanted a stash for myself. But I also thought it’d make a nice gift for event hosts and clients. Honest. So I shot her a quick email and asked for a price list and shipping options.

She replied back within a day. Prompt. Courteous. A great first impression. More than enough. But it turned out to be only the beginning.

Within a few days, I received a large delivery of individual bags of toffee samples. Five of her most popular flavors, in various sizes, and packaged in rich decorative boxes with gorgeous, cascading ribbons. In all, about 3 lbs. of toffee perfection.

Pinch me. I’m a pig in front of my trough.

For the past two weeks, I’ve been hoarding my secret stash and sneaking clandestine toffee treats. It’s my responsibility to research. I must, must, must know if it meets my standards before shipping gifts to clients and friends. Yes?

Um, yes. I can attest the toffee is quite satisfactory. Now, where did I put those elastic pants?

Last week I read Fred 2.0: New Ideas on How to Keep Delivering Extraordinary Results, by Mark Sanborn. Troy and I had the privilege of sharing dinner with Mark and his wife, Darla, several months ago. Delightful. I hadn’t read any of his books before, but determined I would. Mark says the following:

“The prevailing spirit of the age seems to be ‘Get before you give.’ Without a tangible incentive—money, recognition, or applause—many people just don’t find any reason to do more than necessary.” (pg. 32)

Ouch. Yes, true. But not Kelly. Not even close. She probably hoped to gain my business. But she had no expectation I’d write a post about her craft, no knowledge of the Facebook and Twitter friends who might hear about what she does and how well she does it.

She showered me with the fruits of her talent, not because of something she hoped to gain, but because she loved the giving.

Simply, she delighted to do it. How rare she is! I couldn’t help but wonder: Am I a Kelly? Or …

  1. When I give a gift, card or encouraging email, do I expect a thank you? Or hope to gain points on the approval scale?
  2. When I do someone a favor, do I hold it like a promissory note I plan to collect on later?
  3. When sharing talents or expertise, do I offer the bare minimum to get by?
  4. Do I drop compliments because I hope it ingratiates me to the person or warrants similar accolades in return?
  5. Do I grow disappointed, even bitter, when my efforts at excellence aren’t acknowledged or reciprocated like I think they should be?

I’ve interacted with enough such people to know how instantly distasteful an offering becomes when so motivated. But I had to admit: I’ve behaved the very same at times.

Ouch. Again.

Few things taste as sweet as an extraordinary, unexpected gift. But nothing ruins the flavor like an angle or expectation behind the offering.

What if we, instead, chose to take Kelly’s approach to the way we serve others? What if we delighted in the giving and blessing and encouraging far more than any possible hope of a benefit in return?

What if the act of giving, itself, was enough?

Like Mark said so well, “Don’t settle for normal. Choose to be extraordinary.”

Normal is negotiating for position, doing only enough to get by, keeping score. Extraordinary is giving and serving extravagantly for the sheer delight of it. Three pounds of beautiful, finger-licking toffee. Just because.

And extraordinary is choosing to share, rather than hoard.

Okay. Got it.

What is one way you could give or serve or love extravagantly today?


  1. Linda Lochridge Hoenigsberg

    Michelle. I just finished reading “Blue Like Jazz” for the first time. I asked myself the same questions and got the same result (Ouch!). It’s all about me, way too often. Apparently I needed to be reminded of this, this week. Thanks! ;o).

    • Michele

      Yes, it’s all about me way too often, too. About the time I think I’m turning a corner, I prove myself wrong. 🙂

  2. Gretchen Yoder

    Oh Michele – thank you for the gentle reminder! I always love your stories – and love toffee too! 😉

    • Michele

      Thank you, Gretchen! If you love toffee, you should definitely contact Kelly. The best toffee I’ve ever had.

  3. Esther

    I’m taking time out of my evening to put together chocolate goodies for some ladies helping me out at a women’s conference this weekend.
    I’d rather be watching Criminal Minds, or sleeping, but I also want them to know how much I appreciate them.
    Great Post! Full Disclosure: I should mention I’ll be doing this while wearing my yoga pants, because of my chocolate addiction….

    • Michele

      Hahaha. Yay for yoga pants!

  4. Amy Thedinga

    Quitting a successful corporate job to stay home with my kiddos has taught (is teaching) me this lesson daily. Gone are the awards, the applause, the accolades. But something much more precious is left in their place… the chance to store up treasure in Heaven. On my best days, I remember this and give my best performance before an audience of one. On my worst days… well it’s not so glorious. Thanks for the reminder that it’s not about me. That the only way to find my life is to lay it down. I need lots of reminders!

    • Michele

      It’s a huge adjustment moving from the world of regular to feedback to the world in near isolation. I so get it. That’s why, at least in part, it’s vital to nurture authentic relationships with friends in the same space. You ARE storing up treasures!

  5. Denise

    What a beautiful story and great reminder for our gifts to come from our heart.
    Thanks, Michele!

    • Michele

      Thank you, Denise!


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