Giving and Gaining

16 Jun

One of the best parts about teaching or preaching is that one gets the opportunity to remind, challenge and inspire oneself as much as those to whom they are speaking. This perhaps partly explains why I generally feel that no matter what I do, it’s not good enough. (smile)

I am a member of the Lake Superior Chapter of BNI (Business Network Int’l), in the Martial Arts category. Sixty-ish of us business professionals get together weekly to ask each others’ help in growing our respective customer bases. This happens primarily by asking for a referral to some type of, or even a specific, potential customer or client.

I also work part time as a Director Consultant for the Minnesota region of BNI.  I support and train BNI chapters (four in Duluth) to help them and their members be successful in their networking and marketing efforts.  A week ago this past Thursday I presented a training to my own chapter on the topic of giving.

BNI’s core philosophy and motto is Givers Gain. Although many of us are raised with the Golden Rule set before us as a guiding principle, Givers Gain, as I’ve come to see it, really takes us to another level of living.

Givers Gain takes us past a place of “this for that” or “one hand washing the other.” It even goes beyond the Golden Rule. Givers Gain recognizes  the reality that if we give fully to helping others, we will gain or benefit in some way. We get it back. Sometimes soon thereafter, but often in ways not so immediate, and sometimes even in ways we would not expect.

With a true Givers Gain philosophy, we don’t expect to get back, but rather dedicate ourselves to helping others. A neat thing about BNI is that, as that philosophy is fostered in chapter members, you have a bunch of people who get together for the sole purpose of finding out how they can help others. The wonderful part of that dynamic is that, if you help enough people get what they want or need, you also eventually get what you want or need. Zig Ziglar said something like that, but it may have started with someone else much earlier.  So, it all goes around and comes around.

The thing with helping others is that it is good-addictive. I’m excited when I gain a new student through my BNI contacts. However, I feel REALLY good when I learn that I helped someone else gain a client or make a sale. I’ve felt good when I’ve accomplished something special in the martial arts. But what has kept me going in my Taekwondo school efforts is the addiction to seeing the benefit or development that a student or colleague gets from our efforts for them. I feel better for them than I ever felt for myself.

It’s too easy for many of us to approach life — BNI, Taekwondo, jobs, relationships — with a dominant mindset of “What am I getting out of this?”  BNI members with that mindset don’t last long, because they can never get enough. And, they often might not be getting much, a reflection of the fact that they are not giving much at all.

The same principle is in play when a Taekwondo student quits, often at a higher color belt or black belt level, because they don’t think they are getting out of it as much as they used to, as if helping an emotionally troubled youth accomplish a challenging belt promotion isn’t a reward. Ironically, they don’t see how they are at the point of giving back a bit of what they received from others over the past months or years.

BNI needs the “gain” in the Givers Gain because, hey, it’s a business organization. I think many of our lives, and the lives of others, would be enriched in undiscovered ways if our philosophy was more, and simply, Give.



Wonderfully, perhaps ironically, there are rewards to be gained.

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