Paying It Forward: Is There More to Life than the Race, the Pursuit, and the Game?

The more you give, the more you gain, in every area of your life.

Sometimes, the difficulties we can experience in life, often seems like a “life sentence.”

It often feels like it’s here to stay, permanent even. A good friend of mine made a casual comment once that to this day I’ve never forgotten: “There’s more to your life than ‘how you feel,’ your emotions can blind you to the abundance that’s all around you.” Is this true? Well I would find myself having to put this to the test, just two years after the Great U.S. Recession.

Like many people working in the financial sector during that period, I found myself suddenly laid off.

Being an analyst at a small M&A firm and not an investment banker, there weren’t millions of dollars in bonuses to ride it out, no fat severance package as a consolation. No, I was in full blown distress, and my normal avenues for professional work were all seized up, as the country (and the World quite frankly) held it’s collective breath and took a long wait and see approach to the future.

At some point, after exerting tremendous efforts to find employment, get back on my feet — get back in the game, doubt became more prevalent, more pronounced. It began to color my thinking, and erode my confidence.

I was spiraling, and I could no longer see a way out.

I was no longer thinking “future,” instead I was thinking “survival.” And then the holidays arrived. Now I’m staring at a new year arriving shortly and I haven’t solved my problem, I haven’t made the course corrections. I found myself asking: “Is this it? Is this my fate? To constantly dance and tap my way 24/7 to get in and stay in the Game? Is there another way?” 

Technology is good. Money’s important. But these are tools right? Resources. Yet, these two things seem to dominate our time, attention and focus. To what end?

So in December that year, during one of those crazy winter storm deals where there was 4 feet of snow outside and everyone was hunkered down at home, I dusted off my old journals looking for the answer to the question. And I stumbled upon it — the answer came in three parts:

“We will do more for others than we do for ourselves…”

“The fastest way out of feeling bad or depressed or whatever is to set about to help someone — anyone — quickly.”

“The more you give, the more you gain, in every area of your life.”

I believe these statements are true. I need these statements to be true — and if they are, then it guarantees that there is more to life than the race, the pursuit, and the game.

So, even with limited means financially, I set aside some of my energy from job hunting and I started focusing on finding ways to assist others – family, friends, strangers; I made time, really listened and offered what support I could.

I found myself joining what was then called “The Boundless Living Challenge,” a community established by Bob Doyle, where thousands of people from around the globe interacted, shared their dreams and supported one another. [my experience with the challenge is one of the things that inspired the creation of MeYouSocial…] The magic — and the miracle part — is that this community’s power was that its members gained all they needed by giving all they could of themselves to others. And despite my worry and stress of trying to secure employment, I found myself getting energized helping to inspire others in the pursuit of their dreams.

I gave what I could, and what I had to give wasn’t money of course, but something far more valuable: advice, sharing my experiences (the good and the bad), referring members to resources I’ve used as an entrepreneur, manager, leader, consultant. Helping others shifted the focus away from myself, and began to shift my thinking — and how I felt — about life, my life.

Turns out this miracle came in two parts…

Giving without any clear expectation that there would be a “return,” … It felt better than expected and I won’t bore you with details of the dozens of ways reciprocation has occurred (and continues today) but rest assured – it happens.

But the real test occurred when at a fund-raising dinner for a non-profit whose work I support and believe in, I felt compelled to make a donation. A donation that, being unemployed with little to no cash reserves, I could easily justify to myself that I couldn’t afford to make. But a part of me, the best part of me, knew that it was not only important to the non-profit that they receive my donation, but that it was vital for me to find the courage to do so. I donated 1/3 of the available money I had on hand, and I did it knowing that I would have to make some sacrifices to offset the consequences of my donation. {And the irony can be found in the organization’s name: “Foundation for Appropriate and Immediate Temporary Help”— kind of reflects one of the major themes in the World today, yes?} 

Then, a funny thing happened: I found myself saying to myself — “I’m going to donate more than this.” I realized that I had wealth I hadn’t even tapped yet — and it wasn’t money, it was my relationships and my ability to communicate.

The next morning, I set about crafting a letter to my entire personal network, talking about my experience at that event, how there is often many ways we can contribute over and above money, and that I was grateful for the experience to be “rich” enough to be able to give – of my time, money, whatever I could. I have no way of knowing how many people received that letter, but I’m certain it was sent to many more people than I sent it to originally. In the days and weeks that followed, many people responded saying they had been inspired by my letter and that they had made a donation to such and such charity.

So how does the story end? Well, I received a note of thanks from the director of the foundation (it was such a small amount of money in comparison to the other donations they received that evening, which made this personal note even more amazing to me). I found additional ways to assist the foundation, providing about 30 hours of free consulting time to help them think through expanding their fund raising strategies (beyond the local community). And a follow-up email to my network asking for referrals for project/consulting work (vs. a job) yielding an engagement the following month.

Give. I promise you, it will bring you ten fold things you can’t even imagine.

Because here’s the secret: Giving isn’t about the recipient: It’s one of the few test human beings can take where you’re guaranteed to earn an “A.

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Lee Christopher Grant

At my core, I am driven by curiosity, seeking knowledge and wisdom, and focused on creating value in the World. I’ve devoted much of my life in the pursuit of meaningful connection and growth, and as a result, have become adept at surfing through the waves of uncertainty. I’m a person on a journey, seeking to explore and develop to my fullest potential, and this journey has led us to create the MeYouSocial community. As a serial entrepreneur and active journeyman hiking through the 21st century, I play many roles; my favorites being: "Wealth Architect," "Master Strategist," and "Sovereign Leader." People find me eccentric, intelligent, creative, honest, loyal, committed, and focused. I've been gifted with an old soul, strong heart and dynamic mind. These allow me to be an effective coach and advisor, helping others steer through complexity, believe in what's only imagined and actually do the “impossible.” One of my core beliefs is that in our greatest desires, our greatest potential to achieve them often lies within our strongest fears. When I look at my life, I feel amazement, joy and gratitude for what's occurring. I’m privileged to have had major challenges–and with them–extraordinary opportunities to grow not only as a person but professionally. Today, I'm focusing all of my energies on creating alignment, intention and contribution. I'm working with several innovative organizations, contributing where I can and am exploring various opportunities to grow spiritually and professionally...

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