Be Generous


Since today's the first day of 2013, I thought I'd wrap up the “Success in 2013” series. If you've missed any, here they are:

Be Generous

We have a saying in our home that helps me teach my children (and wife) what we, as a family, want to be known for. It's really simple and one of several that even my five year old can recite: “Lemas are generous.”

My parents didn't use the phrase. Their parents didn't. But I didn't make it up. My parents were generous. I was raised in a family that had deep ties to their local community (so much so that we could never eat dinner in public without being interrupted by someone from my mom's school district or someone who had played on Coach Lema's soccer teams).

But I coined the phrase because I didn't want it to be something that happened by chance. I wanted us, as a family, to hold on to this value above a ton of others. If we had a family crest, I wanted generosity to be on it.

So I coined it to make it clear. To focus our activities. To sharpen our decision making.

It's not natural

The truth is that neither of my kids started out liking our family value. They wanted stuff for themselves. And if being generous with others meant sacrifice, no one was very excited about it. Because the truth is, being generous doesn't come naturally to anyone. It's a habit that requires training.

Make no mistake, generosity isn't just about money. It's about your time and your energy.

One way to be generous

I know a lot of people who figure something out, realize that it could help others, and even promise to write about it (to share their info), but never do. Being generous could simply mean sitting down for 20 minutes and writing down what you've learned. It's not natural, but it's not hard.

So start a blog. Write an eBook. Create a whitepaper. Record a video.

Whatever you do – know this: sharing what you know is just as valuable as sharing what you have.

Three tips to being generous

1. Listen differently—my family has learned to hear differently. When people are sharing their story, or what's going on, my family is listening with an active ear, asking, “Is there any way I can be part of the solution to the troubles they're facing?”

2. Spend differently—my family has had to learn to spend differently. We don't spend every penny we have, every pay period. We budget for “generosity.” It's become so much a part of our budget that every year it grows a bit. Start simple. But as you increase your ability to invest in people, it will increase the impact you have.

3. Engage differently—we tell stories about our family values a lot but never because we're trying to boast. Instead, it's because we're constantly inviting others to join us in a journey that's radically different than the story a lot of people are living. Selfishness never seems to work and generosity pays dividends.

I know you come to the site, more often than not, to read about WordPress—and I love the platform it is and what it can do. But one of the reasons I've found a home in that community is because at its heart, it's a generous community—and that fits with our family value.

So join me in being generous in 2013!