It’s Time to Be Generous

On November 7, 2013, one of the most intense storms in recorded history Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines. Wind gusts were estimated at 195 mph. Early estimates suggest over 10,000 people have died in the city of Tacloban alone and more than 11 million citizens have been displaced. Aid workers continue to struggle against the debris to provide food and shelter before the survivors succumb to starvation, exposure or disease.

If there was ever a time to be generous, it’s now.

Residents walk near vehicles and debris floating on a river after Super Typhoon Haiyan devastated Tacloban city in central PhilippinesAs much as I’d like to build a case for Haiyan aid, let me take a step back and mention several of the benefits of generosity that you can experience personally.

It Fast-Tracks Your Leadership Character

In his new book The Heart of Leadership, author Mark Miller says that the key mark of a person’s leadership character is putting others first. Being generous means putting the needs of others above our own by going out of our way to work for their benefit. Does that mean we’ll all of a sudden get promoted? Probably not, but then again, it might. It’s at least an indicator that we may be ready.

It Exercises Good Logic

I don’t believe in karma or that the good we do will inevitably return to us. But that shouldn’t stop us from doing what we can with what we have. In the case of the Haiyan victims, there is a good chance that the survivors will never be able to repay aid suppliers. But we shouldn’t expect them to, should we?

Doesn’t it make sense that people who have a lot would freely and temporarily step in a help people who have lost everything?

It Makes a Difference

Generosity isn’t exclusively about money. We can be generous with our talents, time, creativity, networks, ideas – the list is endless. The Grapevine Faith high school football program gave half their fans to cheer for their opponents from a maximum security correctional facility since they never got to play any home games. The impact was off the charts. Small acts of generosity make a difference too.

It Starts a New Habit

Whenever you take a first step in a new direction, it’s easier to take a second (whether for better or worse). The ultimate goal of generosity isn’t a one time experience but a lifestyle. You don’t need to start big. In fact, start small. Start where you are. Simply start.

It Changes You

Remember Ebenezer Scrooge from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol? He was cold-hearted, tight-fisted and greedy! But a frightening intervention sent him on a generosity mission and he was never the same again. Of course Scrooge was a fictional character, but he’s a caricature of the effects of both greed and generosity.

An old proverb states that “he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” That’s why stories of ridiculous generosity are so inspiring: we intrinsically want in. Here’s the good news: you don’t have to wait!

It is So Much Fun!

Last week the Make-a-Wish Foundation and the city of San Francisco came together to make a 5 year-old leukemia patient’s dream come true by allowing him to be “Batkid” for a day. They staged elaborate “crimes” for Batkid to solve, villains to arrest and even a damsel to save. Everyone was in on it, from the police department to local shops to the news media. You can’t tell me that wasn’t a blast!

Today the need is for the survivors of Haiyan. Yesterday it was Sandy, Tohoku and Katrina. Who knows what it will be tomorrow. I challenge you to join me in sharing a little bit of what you have to benefit those in the Philippines who have lost everything. You can make a donation through the Red Cross or a number of other groups.

If you were in their shoes, wouldn’t you hope someone would come to your aid on your darkest day?

Next week I’ll share six ways you can take your generosity to the next level.

Nathan Magnuson is a leadership consultant, coach, trainer and thought leader.  Receive his new ebook Trusted Leadership Advisor by subscribing to his website  or follow him on Twitter.

Nathan Magnuson is an executive leadership consultant, speaker and author of the books Stand Out! and Ignite Your Leadership Expertise. Click to see the exciting ways Nathan is helping organizations and teams become more effective with Leadership-in-a-Box.