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BBH Feature: Giving – The Irrational and Unexpected Path to a Satisfying Life (and Business)

Photo to symbolize giving

Photo from nan palmero

It’s natural to be focused on getting all that we can. But what if the real road to happiness in life and in business is found on the path marked “giving”? 

The Lie of “Limited Good”

I want to start with a story that I came across that Bernie May told in his book, “Learning to Trust”. He said…

For the past forty years Eunice Pike has worked with the Mazatec Indians in south-western Mexico. 

During this time she has discovered some interesting things about these beautiful people.

For instance, the people seldom wish someone well. Not only that, they are hesitant to teach one another or to share (truth) with each other.

If asked, “Who taught you to bake bread?” the village baker answers, “I just know,” meaning he has acquired the knowledge without anyone’s help.

Eunice says this odd behavior stems from the Indian’s concept of “limited good.” 

They believe there is only so much good, so much knowledge, so much love to go around.

To teach another means you might drain yourself of knowledge.

To love a second child means you have to love the first child less.

To wish someone well–“Have a good day”–means you have just given away some of your own happiness, which can’t be reacquired.

The way that some people live and do business everyday, you’d think they believe the same thing about “limited good”! 

But limited good is lie

The opposite is actually true! 

When we give, we don’t lose.  We GAIN

Today, I want to talk to you about a way of living and doing business that could change what you do and why you do what you do.  

And it’s all based on what people this time of year call “the Christmas Spirit”.

This way of living can be seen in two approaches to living life. 

There are two ways to live life:

+ Add to others and this world. 

– Subtracting from others and this world. 

It basically comes down to living to give or to get

You either live or do business to GIVE to others or you live or do business to GET from others!

The Critical Question

the daily drucker, a life of giving

Let me read forward of the bookThe Daily Druckerto show you an example of this change.
(This is a book filled with different quotes, concepts and ideas from the late management guru Peter Drucker) 

This is what it says…

“His generosity of spirit explains much of Drucker’s immense influence. I reflected back on his work, ‘The Effective Executive’, and his admonition to replace the quest for success with the quest for contribution.

“The critical question is not, ‘How can I achieve?’ but ‘What can I contribute?'”

We need to go from “What can I get?” to “What can I give?”

Now, it’s natural for us to want to be this way during this time of the year.

But what would happen if we let this become a regular, habitual way of living?

Why One of the Wealthiest Men Alive Was So Miserable

Let tell you the surprising story of one of the wealthiest men of the 20th century.

This man was what everyone considered to be a success.

He had inherited more money than he could ever spend.
(In 1917, his father gave him $460 million, which is about $5 billion in today’s dollars.)

But by time he was 53 years old his life was in shambles.

His whole career he had always said, “I never placed my head upon the pillow at night without reminding myself that my success might only be temporary.”

But at 53, his trouble wasn’t that he had lost his money.

No, he was one of the richest man in the world, but he had a problem.

He was miserable.



John D. Rockefeller Jr. was sick physically, mentally, and emotionally.

There was nothing that made him laugh anymore.

There was nothing that brought him joy anymore.

His life was completely out of balance.

The Transformation from Accumulating to Giving

And that’s when something surprising happened: a transformation occurred.

He decided that he’d spent enough time accumulating things.

He now wanted to focus on giving.

So he began to do something that was shocking to his wealthy friends: he began to give millions away.

Not only that, but he went on to found the Rockefeller Foundation, dedicated to fighting disease and ignorance around the world.

And guess what happened to that miserable man?

He lived to be ninety-eight years old and in those final forty years he had become a happy man.

It was all because he decided to focus his attention on being a “giver” and not just a “getter“.

Start Now and Where You Are

mother teresa, mother theresa, on giving

“MotherTeresa 094” by © 1986 Túrelio (via Wikimedia-Commons), 1986 /. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 de via Commons

Mother Teresa once said, “It isn’t necessary to move to Calcutta to do something significant.”

Winston S. Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” 

These two remind us of the mindset we all need to have, during this season of the year and every season of the year!

When you go from mainly focusing on “getting” to “giving”, then it will change what you do and why you do it.  

When you start living that way, you will begin to do NEW things. 

And the things you do that are the same will have a new REASON behind them. 

If you want to learn how this giving attitude can impact your business, then check out this funny, short video from business author Mike Michalowicz

How To Use Reciprocity To Build Your Business 

Source: I discovered the story of John D. Rockefeller Jr. online in the Google Book preview found here.

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About Scott Aughtmon (1864 Articles)
I’m author of the book 51 Content Marketing Hacks. I am also a regular contributor to and I am the person behind the popular infographic 21 Types of Content We Crave. I’m a business strategist, consultant, content creation specialist, and speaker. I’ve been studying effective marketing and business methods (both online and offline) since 1999. ===> If you would like to see ways that we could work together, then please click here to learn more.