This column is written by David MacLean of Wholehearted Leaders. David speaks and writes on Wholehearted Leadership and can be contacted through www.wholeheartedleaders.com.
Give Your Money and Your Time
It charged at us with a ferocity no one in this group of leaders had experienced ever before.
“What is it? What is it? What should we do? Where should we go?”. Scores of questions raced through our minds in a nanosecond. Our varied responses belied a hidden personality we had yet to see in each other.
This particular group of leaders was unique. All CEOs. All entrepreneurs. The combined annual revenues of the 3 CEOs represented close to a quarter of a billion dollars. All powerful leaders, but what came out of each one in this moment of testing, this moment of terror, was quizzical and comical.
One CEO, who shall remain nameless, squealed like a little boy and ran. Another, who shall also remain nameless, went silent and began leaping like a prima ballerina to avoid the terrifying assault which we were now falling victim to. The other 2 leaders in the group grabbed weapons to fight back.
We were a group of 4 men who had chosen to step out of the ordinary in an attempt to create an extraordinary experience. We were in rural Mexico doing volunteer work for impoverished people. We were working to put a roof on the home of a widow.
The attack? That thing which was seemingly threatening our lives? That which was charging us with ferocity enough to send grown men into fits of hysteria and rage?
Yes, a rat. Two in our group fled, two fought. Shovels were the weapon of choice. After a prolonged high speed hunt around the small concrete abode we cornered our quarry, flushed it out and dispatched it drastically and definitively. We then regaled in our victorious battle, mocking and marvelling at our varied responses.
We laughed. We bonded. We made a memory. We were having fun while doing some good for a delightful Mexican lady who greatly appreciated the work we were doing.
What is more charitable: to give money or to give time? Both are necessary. I would argue that both are required of any leader. Leadership is about helping people be better – both locally and globally. This small group of leaders gives away many thousands of dollars annually, but not many had given away their time in a developing world county.
The rat was a funny moment in the midst of our acts of service, but what was truly extraordinary was the interactions we had with precious people whose daily lives are more difficult than any of us had ever imagined, let alone experienced.
This is a type of Shock Therapy. Not Shock Therapy of the electrical variety, but of the heart variety. The shock of seeing people living in conditions in which we would not allow our pets to live. The shock of seeing people so appreciative – to the point of tears – for a group of Canadians coming down to do some work to help them, and to effectively say, “We love you.”, without using words.
You cannot help but be changed by opening up your heart to the needs of others. You cannot help but be changed by inconveniencing yourself by leaving the day-to-day demands of your work and life for the sole purpose of helping out wonderful people trapped in the ravages of poverty.
You can’t help but be changed by communicating care through the use of sign language, facial expressions and hugs to another member of the human race whose language you don’t understand, but whose feelings you are attempting to empathize with.
We give money to help others. We give time to help others and to help ourselves as well.
If you have not had the privilege of doing so yet, commit to giving of your time to contribute to the betterment of another person’s life. Do it locally, or do it globally. When you give of your time to help others you often receive far more than you have given away.
I think Albert Schweitzer had it right when he said,
“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve others.”
Invest in others by giving away both your money and your time.