In a recent planning session with some Marco leaders, we discussed what words we hope people use when talking about our company. One of the qualities that rose to the top was “generous.”
Marco definitely has sought to be a good corporate citizen. But what gives a company – or a person, for that matter – a reputation of being generous?Personally, I don’t want to just work for a company that is generous; I want to work for a company of generous people. There is a difference. It is easier to give away someone else’s time or money. Something changes when we give away our own. It requires some element of selflessness.
The simple definition of generosity is “giving more than what is expected.” It is not a finite number, which makes generosity a moving target. Individuals and companies want to be seen as generous; hardly anyone wants to be called a scrooge. But how do we become generous? It is a journey…
- It starts with being present.
There are opportunities all around us to be generous — at work, in our neighborhood and in our families. The question is do we respond to those around us in a generous way? So often generosity starts in the small acts that we do for others, in spite of our schedules and desires. Generosity is not just about money. It requires an element of sacrifice to give our best.
- Find a mentor (or two).
I don’t think we are born generous. We need to learn it. I first saw it as a young boy through my Grandmother Strand. I knew she did not have much at all, yet I always saw her put money in the offering at church and give what she had to others. I was fortunate to have generosity mentors early in my career with the founders of Marco. Both Gary Marsden and Dave Marquardt are generous and built Marco’s culture of giving back to the communities we serve.
- Be open to being stretched.
Someone who I trust and respect once challenged me on generosity. The conversation stuck with me. It led me to give two and a half times the amount that I initially planned to, and it began a shift in thinking for me. Surround yourself with generous people and be willing to be challenged. Seeing people give more than I would expect gives me a new perspective and changes my own habits.
- Personally engage others in giving.
This is where you may see the biggest change. When you talk about being generous and help others create habits, you become more accountable to being generous, too. My wife and I committed this month to providing a matching challenge and personally are raising funds to keep our YMCA strong. Writing the check can be just the beginning of generosity.
Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and, more recently, Jeff Bezos, are considered some of the most generous people in America, based on their personal charitable contributions. They may get recognition because they give away billions of dollars. But it’s the unassuming people who consistently give a significant percentage of their income and time (without wanting recognition) who I see as generous.
So often it seems generosity comes from a place of gratitude. Grateful people tend to be more generous. When we recognize how much we have been given, it’s easier to give it away.
An Opportunity to Act
Today, I am going to end in an unusual way and ask you to act.
Will you make a generous gift today? If you’re looking for a cause, I would appreciate your support of the YMCA. Click here to put your money where my heart is (and my wife and I will match it).
JOIn THE CONVERSATION
Like many organizations, Marco has had to find new ways this year to give back to our local communities. The results, in many cases, actually have been better. Listen to the recent podcast on some new practices and what we're learning.