Giving Back

I’ve spoken about balance in my previous blogs. I work hard to balance work and family. A third component of life is the dimension of giving back to our communities. It is the multi-faceted act of helping others, and in doing so, helping ourselves. I am fortunate to find many opportunities to make a difference.

Yes, part of it is ingrained in me, a calculated infusion of the “giving gene” by a philanthropic family. My parents and grandparents led by example and taught my sister and me that being a member of any community requires that you give back. They volunteered, as well as supported their causes and communities with time and financial support.

As far back as I remember, I lived with an expectation that I had a responsibility to give back. It extended beyond my neighborhood and personal interests to all aspects of my life.

There are many ways to give back, both personally and professionally. It may be adding strategic thinking or advice to a colleague’s initiative or mentoring a young woman looking to get grounded in the world of business. You can roll up your sleeves and man (or woman) the lines at a soup kitchen, or sit at a non-profit board table and offer your professional skills to a worthy cause. You can connect with a young person in need of guidance and friendship, or you can champion a political cause that speaks to you.

In reflecting on how giving has impacted my life, I’ve come to realize that I gain as much from giving as do the recipients of my efforts. It feels selfish to admit it, but giving grounds me and prevents me from immersing myself in….well, myself.

At first, I gave back because I wanted to help others. But I soon found it to be more.   I quickly discovered the positive energy of giving and its ability to put life in perspective. I feel when I help someone else, I’m also helping myself.

You may wonder, what has me so reflective on this rather private part of my life. Let’s face it, no one wants to hear the sound of me patting myself on the back.

For those of you who haven’t heard the wonderful news, my husband, Eric, and I are becoming parents in October. We are ecstatic, excited, nervous, a bit scared and very reflective as we await the birth of our daughter and the challenges and responsibilities of parenthood.

I’ve begun to wonder how Eric and I will instill the values in our daughter that we value so much in others. How do we, for example, share the gift of being a giver with her? How do we make sure that she, too, inherits the “giving gene?”

Anne Frank once said, “No one has ever become poor by giving.” I venture to say that giving provides a richness that one can never experience through monetary success. I want my daughter to be blessed with that richness of giving.

I suspect many of you have experienced the personal growth that comes from helping others and have already started to develop the “giving gene” in your children. Eric and I value your gift of advice and wisdom. Help us give our daughter the richness that giving has provided in all of our lives.

Whether you have encouraged your kids to contribute a portion of their allowance to a worthy cause or you have taken them with you when you delivered Thanksgiving baskets to those in need, I’d love to hear about your lessons and the impact they have on your children. Just leave a note in the comment section of this blog so others can also learn.

As I acknowledged at the beginning of this blog, life continues to be about balance. Each dimension of our lives is a contributor to our health and happiness and a part of what makes us whole. Don’t forget to include the element of giving back to your community in your balanced life so you too can experience the richness it provides.

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