The Gift

Throughout my career I’ve met people Happy beautiful woman opening a giftwho have helped me, often giving of their time, their guidance or sometimes just an extra day or two to move a gnarly project forward. I’m sure they didn’t look upon what they did as charitable, but it was. For in those multiple acts of kindness they gave me the chance to overcome something. They gave me a career.

Charity is defined as “generosity and helpfulness especially toward the needy or suffering.” Often, the concept of charity is applied to those outside of our day-to-day life, to people experiencing need so obvious that we clearly see our actions to help them as charitable.

But charity happens in small ways, too. We can be charitable on a daily basis and one place where our charity can have a far-reaching impact is in our work. It begins with a simple, internally posed question: “Do I want to be known for what I do for myself or how I act through others?”

Engaging in a virtuous cycle of giving to others on the job strengthens the overall environment. In many ways, there is more than kindness behind the role we play in fostering a sound environment. It is a form of responsibility to our work and the people who share it. Particularly for those higher up the food chain, giving should be viewed as part of the professional code.

How do charitable acts strengthen the environment? By creating, of all things, happiness. In 2009, four researchers at the Harvard Business School published a working paper on giving entitled “Feeling Good About Giving: The Benefits (and Costs) of Self-Interested Charitable Behavior.” The gist of the paper is that happy people tend to give more, which increases their happiness, which then leads to more giving. Giving begets giving due to its pleasure and reward.

Being charitable at work, either now during the Western World’s holiday season or at any time, is a gift for oneself, one’s colleagues and one’s organization. It can add another layer of meaning to work. Here are a few options to consider:

  • Discover the areas your company devotes its social responsibility efforts to and participate as you can.
  • Play a part in an organized volunteer day your employer sponsors.
  • Take one of your assignments or projects that can let a colleague shine, and let them run with it.
  • If you are a leader, pay attention to what is happening with your team and if someone needs a break of some kind, give it readily.
  • Give your time or advice when asked, and give your patience when not.

Regardless of the specific act, the collection of acts we perform with and for our colleagues form what I see as the scaffold of progress. Progress, because in helping others we foster the conditions to help countless more. Acting through others builds infrastructure, an infrastructure of goodwill, camaraderie and improved environments. Acting on our individual behalf alone builds a singular, fragile frame. And it doesn’t add what most of us wish we had in our work – happiness.

In this season of giving, find your own charitable acts. Through their generosity they will be enduring, through their compassion they will be creative and through their selflessness they will yield great rewards.






















There are no comments yet, add one below.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *