There’s an art to giving. Being a ‘do-gooder’ is a great thing but only when it’s done for the giving, not the getting. In this reflective time, I’ve begun to ask myself (to the tune of the Buzzcocks song) ‘What do I give?’
I was brought up a Catholic, so the belief that giving back is good was in my DNA — it’s right and it’s what we do. We don’t put ourselves first, we put others first.
I give people an ear when they want to talk, I give to my children, who I always put first. I often give money to homeless people and I’m a regular ‘justgiver’. But, as lockdown progresses I’ve noticed I’ve got a lot of energy and there’s a lot more to do here. To be out there, in the world, doing and giving. To be proactive like 99-year-old Captain Tom Moore who’s just raised over £12 million for the NHS Charities Together by walking around his garden.
Giving: what’s it all about?
Over the years, I’ve absorbed some confused messaging regarding my own spirituality. Today I feel goodness and godliness comes from the inside and is part of the ‘bigger picture,’ as a child I learned it was sent from on high. It’s taken me quite a few years and quite a lot of running around in circles (literally) to see a simple truth. It doesn’t matter if you think the good stuff comes from God or the universe, or you, the core message remains the same, it’s not what your world can do for you that matters, it’s what you can do for it (apologies JFK, I changed the words).
I felt even when I did give, I wasn’t a good giver as deep down I knew I was kidding myself and my giving was linked to getting — sub-consciously I believed I had to give to get into heaven and stay out of hell. And then there are the excuses, the ‘not enough time’ stuff and the belief that I should be focussed first on earning a living, building a business, being responsible — I’ll do charity stuff when I’ve got more time.
Asking different questions
But being responsible, paying bills, and working won’t be affected by a simple re-focus. If COVID-19 has taught me anything it’s told me to exit my day-to-day fear realm: ‘oh god what if it doesn’t work, what if I fail, what if I never earn money again (all very real possibilities!)… and best of all given the Captain Tom story — am I past it?’ Now I’ll try to ask myself: Am I giving anything, am I adding something of value, is this good use of my time here on planet earth?
True motivation leads to action
It’s not what you do that matters, it’s the reason for doing it. Captain Tom didn’t start by thinking I’ll do a 100 laps of my garden. He started with the charity. Nick Butter ran a marathon in every country in the world but was driven to by raising money and awareness for Prostrate. The charity came first, then the challenge.
And for me it’s simple, the work I do is about making wellbeing, health, fitness and positivity the new bottom line, a measure of business success and an item for the balance sheet.
Giving is on the agenda today Thursday 16th April 2020