The Daily Growth Blog #4/365 | Giving More, being more

I don’t know, this was the only childhood image I had in my laptop

When I was a kid, we weren’t that well off. Yes, we were not poor but we were part of the growing middle class fraternity of a new & recently modernized India. (1991 had just happened). So obviously I grew up in a household that glorified ‘savings’ and looked down upon unruly expenditures. Even if it meant living a bit stingily (I hope that word exists).

Over time, things got better and we were able to slowly and steadily acquire ‘things’, moving higher in Maslow’s hierarchy. (I never really knew why self-actualization was at the top though, there’s so much more to life).

But within my extended family, I’d always encounter the ‘stingy’ mindset (The hindi word ‘chindi’ is the most apt). And I have encountered this mindset every now & then and wondered why a lot of us think like that.

Don’t get me wrong. Saving money is good. It’s actually a great behavioural trait that a lot of us don’t have. And frankly speaking, savings are one of the main reasons behind the accumulation of wealth.

Frivolous spending is not good too. That’s how one loses all of one’s accumulated wealth. So yes, savings & unnecessary spending are both bad habits, even in my dictionary. (Just wanted to get that out of the way).

I’m talking about the kind of behaviour that values money, things and a selfish mindset above goodness and goodwill. That, I truly believe, is not right. You should always put peace, harmony & goodness above the frivolities of money or any other form of artificial benefit.

I am repeating myself but if there’s one human being who has taught me how to live, with or without ample amounts of money, it is my mother. Right from the very beginning, she’s made sure that we gave money where it was due and saved money where it was possible, and correct, to save.

I’ve tried to capture some of the lessons I’ve learned over time, from her and from other amazing human beings who’ve taught me things about money and giving, that I zm always grateful to them for.

#1. Give happily

There will be numerous instances when we have to fork out money. No, not the obvious situations where we are buying something at a store (offline or online). I’m talking about situations where we are forced to give money when we didn’t plan to. Maybe a friend asked us to donate to their charity or we were caught by traffic cops for speeding or your best friend asked for some urgent funds because he got laid off. Whatever be the reason, whenever we give money, we should do it happily. Otherwise don’t. Period.

When we give happily, we share our gratitude with the universe and the money we give, actually adds value back to us as well, many times over.

I tried this once, with a set of cops who’d pulled me over for jumping a traffic light. I thanked them for their service to us and for keeping us all safe. I tried to be as helpful as possible in the entire process of getting my traffic fine. Never argued with them or tried to weasel out of the ticket. I even went to the nearest ATM to get cash so it is easier for them. For some reason they were so blown away by my peaceful demeanour, they reduced the fine by 50% and let me off with a minor warning. So sweet of them.

Anyway, that’s lesson #1, always give happily. Karma will be kinder to us then. (I know I’ve based this on just one sample set but I hope you get the core reasoning).

#2. Never ask or take from anyone else

As far as possible, try not to ask. Try to be the person who always gives your time, energy, money or resources for the benefit of others. I truly believe that we have the ability to manage our own hardships ourselves, without ‘too much’ external support. Yes, talk to friends, family, loved ones and supporters, but try not to ask them for help unless you’re really very very very sure you need it.

I believe this simple practice helps create a very strong persona, and helps build strength of character. I know lots of colleagues, friends, and family members who keep asking for anything & everything. Right from the most mundane queries to monetary support. And many a time, it is frivolous and uncalled for. You do help but you also lose a bit of respect for that person when you do it. It’s just not a good situation for both parties.

Try not to be that frivolous for someone else. It’s not right. Respect thou self and respect others.

#3. When you feel someone is trying to take undue advantage, try to show love and kindness

Oh yes, this one’s tough to incorporate or practice. And you might think I’m downright dumb. Okay so there are two aspects to this.

Aspect Number One — Try not to get into situations where someone might take advantage of you. Be careful, intelligent and thoughtful about situations which are not normal. Our intuition (gut) will tell us automatically when it thinks we are about to get into a weird situation. We should listen to it a whole lot more and give it a lot more credit than we usually do.

Aspect Number Two — If you got into a queasy situation unknowingly and are now faced with this tremendous decision of fighting back to claim what’s your ‘right’, don’t fight where there’s just no point. Yes, it is going to be tough as hell, but try and be the bigger person. Be kind. Normally the odds are stacked against us, and the goal we’re trying to fight for, is too menial to worry about. Also, we should think of the greater good, and what actually matters to us rather than being drawn into random ego battles, just for the sake of it.

For instance, just last month we were being taken for a ride by a real estate agent for a paltry sum of INR. 1.5 Lakhs (USD 2000 or so). It was worth nothing as compared to the size of the overall deal we had closed off on, but it was not right for the agent to behave in the manner he did. But in the end we decided to take the higher ground since a lot of other people were being troubled by the morally incorrect agent. We paid the amount and moved on. We shared our displeasure with the agent and gave him a good educated beating down (ah well, we are human after all). Our overall action was taken to promote peace for the agent and all the other participants of the deal and we paid him the amount happily, wished him well in life and went on with our lives.

The other way to deal with it was to continue the battle, follow a legal route maybe and spend time, energy and money on trying to prove our ‘righteousness’. We just decided not to. There was too much riding on our future to worry so much about this blip in the past.

I also believe that we all owe some bit of ‘money’ to the cosmos and some small losses will happen every now and then. As long as these losses are under our control and we focus on the greater good, we will be happy and life will continue.

#4. Err on the side of humanness

Haven’t we all come across situations where we don’t know what course of action to take or which option to choose? Conundrums are part and parcel of life, some of them are small enough to not bother about but some of them are slightly more impactful. A decision in any direction can really impact lives or futures (not the stock options, actual futures).

Personally I’ve had to take a decision in many situations where I’m not really sure of which way to go. In all those cases I’ve tried to err on the side of humanness and take the decision that benefits a human being, and promotes the idea of goodness or goodwill, even if you personally feel ‘cheated’ or ‘disconcerted’. That’s a small price to pay when you compare it with the larger good you were able to achieve.

For instance, If it’s a decision between keeping a difficult non-performing employee on the team for a bit longer or firing them immediately to safeguard costs, I’d rather err on the side of supporting a human being than supporting the bottom line of a P&L statement. (And no, I am not talking about any crimes or misbehaviour by the employee — just your average non-performer who is just not improving). Yes, I will have a heart to heart with the difficult employee and try and explain the situation to them, but I will not leave them high and dry. I will wait for them to find a new opportunity and let them go as soon as possible. And I will surely not feel bad about allowing the company to spend another 3–4 months of that employee’s salary. Some costs should be managed. :)

#5. Support others who might need you

Finally, the last thing that comes to my mind is the dire need of support and volunteering activity that so many NGOs and social organizations need, all around us. It is a duty for each of us to take out time for supporting the communities around us. There are so many who need our time, our experience and our expertise.

There are many individuals around us who just need an ear, a shoulder and an open mind. And most of us, in much more privileged situations can give at least two out of the three requirements without really bothering ourselves much.

I think that’s mostly it, from my learnings so far. Every time I’ve given a part of me to someone else, with complete humility and gratitude (for being able to do so), I’ve become a better version of myself just by performing that simple act. It is a wonderful way to be. Oh, the peace and joy. I could fly.

Cheers!

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Vineet V. George

A sales and consulting professional who enjoys writing about things that are close to his heart.