How strong are your muscles?
Your ability to lift weights or perform well at different sports is not just about the skills, knowledge and mentality you establish through learning and practice. Great performance depends on the strength, elasticity and durability of your muscles as well. And that’s one of the reasons why you and I can’t become a master of anything overnight.
If you lift a weight that’s too heavy or try to run a distance you’ve never trained for, you could injure yourself. Simple.
Interestingly, many things you do in your life requires special muscles too.
Your ‘ability to give’ is the same. It can grow over time by training and practice. But it might injure you if you are not prepared for it.
How to Grow Your Giving Muscles
Let’s picture a child in a game. He is attached to the points he is winning. When someone takes away some of the points he owns, he gets upset, eventually tipping over the entire board declaring that it is not fair…
Often giving or letting others have things can feel like losing — missing out on something important. When we have less than others, it feels unfair. We might also feel guilty by having more than others.
Even when we reach adulthood, the acts of giving away, letting go or giving up may create this sense of loss, unfairness and inferior feelings. We know it is good to be sharing and giving. But in a real life, it is easy to get attached to trivial things too. We all have different comfort zones and tendencies around giving.
On the other hand, if you give through guilt, it could also create unwanted situations. People around you might demand more. Some of these people might become dependent on you. So, what is the way to become the best giver, a positive change-maker?
Although there are many other ways, here are the key personal qualities (let’s call them your giving muscles) you can build to get over those feelings and then strengthen your ability to give and make a positive difference.
Muscle 1: Confidence
When you feel inferior and lack in self-confidence, it’s not easy to feel that you have something to give. But self-confidence doesn’t always come from successes. It comes from trusting your own intent and capability to do your best in every situation. If you are committed to do your best even if you are not perfect, you gain great confidence in yourself.
“Great leaders don’t need to act tough. Their confidence and humility serve to underscore their toughness.” -Simon Sinek
Muscle 2: Clear Perspective
When you can see the situations as they are without being consumed by them, you can see solutions for every challenge and how best you can contribute. The ability to step away from emotional reactions and seeing things clearly is a capability we all can learn to build. If what you are experiencing was happening to someone else, (if you were ‘detached’) what would your best advice be to the other person?
“You must look within for value, but must look beyond for perspective.” – Denis Waitley
Muscle 3: Empathy
It’s easy to see things from your own perspective and make assumptions about others. But being able to ponder on the possible perspectives of others, or being open to listen and doing your best to serve the person, isn’t necessarily what comes to us naturally. When you strengthen your empathy muscle, you have a far better chance of creating real win-win situations.
“Empathy is about finding echoes of another person in yourself.” – Mohsin Hamid
Muscle 4: Humility
When things are going well for us, it’s easy to take credit for the great things happening around us. But all great things we experience are temporary just like all challenges are. Sometimes, we might do well but we also make mistakes as we go. We can never be the ultimate master who has nothing more to learn. Having the willingness to continue to learn and fail, takes us further.
“Have the humility to learn from those around you.” – John C. Maxwell
Muscle 5: Gratitude
If you compare what you have with something greater, you can never feel grateful for the current situation or experience. The ability to be grateful for the things we have today, grateful for the people who are around us right now and grateful for the experiences we face today is the ultimate giving muscle. If you feel fulfilled no matter how much or how little you have, you actually end up having more to give right now. You also get to feel the real joy of giving too.
“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie
If you consciously notice how your five muscles are doing and take actions that challenge and strengthen these five muscles every day, you can become a greater leader with so much more to give.
Imagine how great it would be if all of us were able to systematically grow our giving muscles to contribute more to the world no matter where we were at in life.
The world full of giving leaders is surely a happier world.
If you want to do more to create positive impact…
You can learn more about the art of making improvements in Masami’s latest book “GIVING BUSINESS: Creating The Maximum Impact in the Meaning-Driven World”.
You can also take the free IMPACT TEST and see how your personal impact can be enhanced.