As I got older, I slowly realized that I was just a “taker” in this world. When I was younger, I took food, money and love from my family. I went to college and received a first-class education. Even after I graduated, I was still just a taker. I purchased clothes, technology and food. I paid for rent, cable and utilities. I used applications like Facebook, Gmail and LinkedIn.
But then things change. You find a partner. You have kids. Your parents get older. That’s when people start giving back. You plan activities that will make your partner happy and your goals involve giving your kids the best life possible. And ultimately, you want your parents to understand just how much you appreciate them.
Now, you might think about all that work you’ve put into your job. That’s literally time you’ve given in return for a paycheck. My only problem with that analogy is that you’re not actually “giving” to a person or a community. You’re giving time to a business entity. The difference between those is that a business entity doesn’t appreciate, love and react emotionally to your actions. I know that’s a strange detail and you could argue that a business is made up of people that you’ve impacted. But even then, I think you’ll find that being a “giver” to your coworkers is different than giving time to your company.
I didn’t realize just how much of a taker I was until I started a company. Though it may sound contradictory, when you start a company, you are desperately trying to give value to someone. Because when you give value to someone, you receive money in, hopefully, a fair exchange. With that money, you can expand your company and provide value to even more people. And it goes beyond that basic concept. The company that you start could potentially give people jobs and jumpstart a community.
I’ve also realized just how hard it is to be an instinctual giver. Just like anything in life, it requires a lot of practice. Whenever you meet someone new, are you thinking about how this person can help you? Or are you thinking about how you can help this person. If you consistently think about the latter, you’re a natural giver. I have to admit that I have to consciously flip my brain for this. But I’m getting better at it.
If I had a chance to go back in time and talk to my 21 year old self. I would tell him that once you have your own life in order, consciously look for ways to help others, understand their pains and give back to them. Connect people who can help each other out. It may sound like a noble cause, and while it can be, I’ve found that in the long-run, it’s more valuable to give back.