A couple of years ago, my favourite yogi Eoin asked the question “what was a gift you were given by your parents”. My answer then was the same as today: from my mother Brenda, I was given the gift of appreciation (she of the “don’t postpone joy” maxim). And from my father, Richard, I was given the gift of generosity. It is impossible for him to make soup without bringing us some. Loaves of bread too. What he has, he shares. I think this philosophy is lovely and makes the world go ‘round. My world, in any case. In recent years, I have been accused of being "generous to a fault". It’s a funny turn of phrase, don’t you think? A compli-sult, really. I’ve stewed thought about it plenty and I really struggle with getting my head around it.
Call me simple (actually, please don’t)…I see generosity as good. A core value of mine to be cherished and fostered, much like its kindness cousins compassion and empathy. So how/when does an abundance of what is good become a fault?
So I asked the twittosphere (a place of unbridled generosity, so I’ve found) this question:
Do you think it's possible to be "generous to a fault"?
Responses varied from perspectives on the types of people in your life (and if they were “users” or not) to whether or not to "generous to a fault" means giving what you don’t have, or out of compulsion - not true generosity.
Hmmmm. Well, that certainly sparked some voices in my head.
I had painfully set aside a day to get caught up on my bookkeeping. Which was a grievous underestimation of how MANY days I should have set aside, but I digress.
What I noticed in the process was HOW MUCH MONEY I’ve been spending on my business. The mundane stuff: paper, toner, staples, blah de blah; the investment stuff: training courses, certification, hardware; the cerebral stuff: books, e-books, programs and then all the rest. And all the rest is the killer…piles and piles and PILES of receipts for dinners, lunches and coffee dates. All related to my business and all adding up to some impressive numbers (or depressive…depends on your perspective).
So the voices started hollering: “SEE? You ARE generous to a fault, fool! You can’t afford to be the big spender! Who do you think you are? What are you doing paying for everything? What does it give YOU?”
Do any of those charming voices sound familiar? And those loud sabotaging buggers, they really CAN make you feel small, right? Like the COMPLETE opposite of the intention of generosity.
Which is the point. Saboteurs ('cause that's what they are) WANT you to feel small. That’s how they like you. Small and safe and in the mid-range.
And that, I have discovered, is really not for me.
I have HUGE respect for people who give of themselves with abandon (professionally and personally). It’s hard to do…you run the risk of being called compulsive. Your intentions are questioned. You also run the risk of giving it all away. Yikes!
I am loving the trends I’m seeing on-line. Generosity is finding its way into the business space. Top bloggers talk of giving your best content away. Delicious.
I have this kooky belief that if we all found our edge, stopped being so concerned about being so bloody moderate all the time that something magical would happen.
I have MUCH MUCH farther to go in my own journey of generosity. And I’m not talking about picking up the lunch tabs. I have wisdom, talent and gifts that quite frankly, I’ve been keeping bottled up. Hoarding them. So my new intention is to go to my own edge of my capacity to give. It may well be considered a fault, but we can just go ahead and add it to the pile, now can't we?
What if you always gave the best of yourself? What would that look like?