The Law of Reciprocity

Years ago I learned a simple and powerful principle to live by – give and you will get. Give to others without an expectation of repayment and you will be amazed what you get from people you know and sometimes from those you don’t know at all. In most of western society, and certainly in the business realm, we tend to operate by the “if I give you – you’ll give me something back” law. Call it conditional giving. Most of the time we chose who we will give to based on their ability to, and likelihood of, reciprocating. I give you a gift and you give me one in return; I show you favour in getting a contract and you open a door and create an opportunity for me. This is not all bad because this is also how we build networks of trusted partners and friends that we can level with and candidly state what is required and potentially end up doing business with friends. This tends to be how business and much of society works. There is another approach though. Call it the pay it forward plan. If you have seen the movie by the same name you’ll remember a young boy that sets out to do something very different for a school project and sets in motion a myriad of events and activities that touch countless peoples’ lives. Yes it was a movie that made you feel warm inside and likely caused you to reflect on what could happen if you treated others in a positive manner regardless of their position and station in life. If you believe that God, the universe or Karma will repay you with what you send out, then take a bold step and do something as simple as looking someone in the eyes to thank them for providing great service. Become a grateful receiver by not only thanking them but for looking for opportunities to repay and help others for kind things they have done for you. Everyone prefers to deal with nice rather than selfish people. Take it one big step further and do something kind, generous and encouraging for someone you don’t know or someone who cannot offer anything in return. Give to the food bank; serve meals at a recovery center; find a student that is looking for a coach or mentor to help them move forward with their career or life; raise funds for the United Way, Salvation Army or countless other charities and non-profit organizations that desperately need volunteers and support. Perhaps you have been thinking about doing this for some time. Consider this the nudge you need to get started.

Here is the link to an interesting research done by the United Health Group: http://www.unitedhealthgroup.com/~/media/UHG/PDF/2013/UNH-Health-Volunteering-Study.ashx

In short, the 2013 Health and Volunteering Study shows that:

  • 76% of people who volunteered in the last twelve months say that volunteering has made them feel healthier.
  • 94% of people who volunteered in the last twelve months say that volunteering improves their mood.
  • 78% of people who volunteered in the last twelve months say that volunteering has lowered their stress levels.
  • 95% say they are helping to make their community a better place.
  • 96% say that volunteering enriches their sense of purpose in life.

Volunteering builds…

  • Time management skills
  • Professional job skills
  • People and teamwork skills
  • Stronger relationships with colleagues

Doing Good is Good for You!

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