Are You Generous?
December 2, 2020
Charles Dicken’s said something powerful-“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of another”. He was referring to the unique human capacity to help another being without expecting anything in return. Everyone can be generous.
Seth Godin describes Generosity as your ability to expend emotional labor to make something better for someone else. Not because it is a hustle or because there is some form of reciprocity that gives you back something in return. But simply because you can do what you are capable of doing.
I like this definition because it takes away that sheen of Generosity being something special that only successful people display. Instead, it makes it more commonplace where every one of us has the capacity and the capability to be generous.
So what is emotional labor?
It is the effort you take to overcome your diffidence or resistance to do something.
- Someone is feeling low and in need of some encouraging words to lift him from the abyss of depressive thoughts. You have problems of your own. But you still make an effort to listen to what the person has to say empathically. You are committing emotional labor, and you are generous.
- It’s been a busy day and you get into a Zoom meeting wanting to get on with the work discussion . But you resist the temptation to get straight to the business agenda. You take ten minutes to check on how everyone is feeling before getting to the business. This is emotional labor being spent, and you are being generous.
- Someone is not delivering to potential. Instead of taking the option of easing the person out and recruiting someone new, you take responsibility to work with the person to help her in whatever way possible, to get her up the curve. This is emotional labor in play, and you are being generous.
- You are engaged in a heated argument with a colleague about some point you feel strongly about. Instead of pushing through defensively, trying to establish that you are right and your colleague is wrong, you take a step back and cede ground to your colleague even though you hate it. This is emotional energy being expended, and you are being generous.
Forget about the big headline acts of Generosity. You don’t have to go there. Your Generosity will shine through the smallest of your actions when you spend some of your emotional labor to do something that makes a difference to someone else.
It could be something as simple as making an effort to smile and greet your colleague when you don’t feel like doing it.
Recognize your own power to be generous. Look through your day every day and ask yourself, “what acts of generosity did I take today?”