The Confidence Guy

Wired into Truly Confident Living

Dec 18

Christmas gifts under a Christmas tree‘Tis the season to be jolly, and if we’re to believe what the world-famous, big, jolly round man in the suit says (that’s Santa, not Norm Peterson) it’s a time for giving.

As Bill Murray’s character Frank Cross said in ‘Scrooged’ (one of my favourite Christmas movies — I couldn’t even count the number of times I’ve seen it) when he was receiving the award for humanitarian of the year – “Sometimes I’d find myself hurting, from giving too much. And I’d say, stop it.”. The irony being that all he gave was a company branded face cloth to his employees. The gift that keeps on giving.

So I got to thinking what this giving lark is all about.

At it’s simplest you give something in response to a request for help. Someone asks for something and you give it. Someone asks for a fish and you give ‘em a fish. Someone else asks for a song and you give ‘em a song.

It’s not just restricted to fishes and songs (or songs about fishes) — the most stunning example of this was when I read about a guy who asked for help after he wrote off his car in a horrible car accident. He asked for help taking care of his bills and people responded.

People gave.

The guys at Men with Pens then raised the prickly issue of whether you’d have enough courage to ask for help in the same situation, and in my confidence work I’ve learned that the resounding answer is No. People have a hard time asking for help for all kinds of reasons – they fear ridicule, they fear looking weak, they fear that it takes away from what they’ve achieved and they fear people saying No in response.

People fear being rejected and being alone, but have learned so much independence that they play a solo instead of joining the orchestra.

James is right in his article, it doesn’t have to be that way (and he came up with a brilliant idea to help change things). Sure, people have a heap of issues around asking for help but people have an equally sized heap of issues around giving – and that’s where I want to go with this post.

There’s obviously a big emphasis on giving at Christmas, but like puppies, I don’t think this particular human trait should be just for Christmas. As Brett Legree says over at 6 Weeks, “Give, and give again – even if they don’t ask for help.

Giving is one of humanities most amazing qualities

Giving is one of humanities most amazing abilities.

And we all have it.

It has the potential to change the world if only we’d figure out how to do it consistently and gracefully.

But people have a hard time giving in the right ways and I think there are 3 reasons for that –

1. They’re too wrapped up in their own stuff to notice when or where they can give.
2. They feel self-conscious about giving – they feel silly or awkward because they don’t know how to give or a part of them feels like it’s not appropriate.
3. They fear that what they give will be rejected.

Notice how similar those reasons are to the reasons people don’t ask for help? Just thought I’d point that out. :-O

It takes guts to give.

You have to trust yourself that you’re giving in the right spirit – not to get back but simply because you’re able to give.

You have to trust that even if what you give is rejected, it doesn’t stop you from giving again.

You have to trust that giving doesn’t take away from what you have and who you are, but adds to it.

You have to trust that giving is valuable, even when it appears thankless.

And that trust takes self-confidence.

Like all these things, there’s a balance to be struck. Don’t become a bottomless pit of giving, where your self-worth becomes tied in to how much you give to others. I’ve worked with some habitual bottomless pits in my time, and it’s a tough habit to break.

Don’t give to get validation back – that’s entirely the wrong spirit.

The right spirit is to give without expectation of reciprocity and to give the right things. Don’t give someone a private jet in the hope that they’ll give you a 70ft yacht in return (although if you have a spare jet or yacht lying around I won’t say no). Instead, give unconditionally of the following things –

1. Your time.
Time is precious, and giving someone your time is hugely valuable. Take a couple of hours to help a friend out with something they’re working on. Take time to call a family member or put time aside to have a cup of coffee with someone who could use a friendly ear.

2. Your attention.
Giving someone your attention can make all the difference in the world. I’m afraid to say that sometimes when I’m with a friend I’ll find myself drifting off and thinking about other stuff, tuning out of where I am and what’s being said. Giving your attention let’s people know they’ve been heard, and it’s gold dust.

3. Your resources.
Giving someone your resources is about giving what’s appropriate. This doesn’t have to be about things – money, objects, gifts, etc – but can be about giving the resources you have in abundance – your strengths, talents and values. If you’re great at something offer to help someone out where they might be struggling. If you know a way for someone to get a great result, offer to help out.  Give what you’re naturally good at (just don’t be smug about it).

Giving of yourself without expectation or attachment is what raises you from a mammal to someone who’s embracing what it is to be human and participating fully in the world.

So tell me, what can you give, today?

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  • James Chartrand – Men with Pens

    It constantly amazes me how many people let their insecurities and fears get in the way of being better people. Not only for the benefit of others, but also for themselves.

    Fear can be conquered. We hold ourselves back with the silliest insecurities. It can be changed.

    • Steve

      @James: Amazes me too fella, although to be honest I don’t have it all cracked yet myself. I think what makes the difference is knowing that you can spot and deal with the insecurities and fears when they come up. Every month I learn more ways to handle them.

      @Brett: I love that giving can be as simple as holding a door open, smiling at someone or offering up a seat.

      Your experience with the guy who lost his sight brings it home how lucky most of us are, and I’d love to think that most people would spend their lunch money on a donation if they were in the same situation. Sadly, that’s not the case. We need to clone you Brett.

  • Brett Legree

    James is right – we can overcome the fear, and once you get that one positive response, you could get a million neutral or negative responses and it still wouldn’t matter. Because really, if you reach out to help someone each and every day, things as simple as holding a door or asking them how their day is really, truly going, you’ll get so much more back.

    Probably most of us are quite lucky and don’t know how lucky we are.

    Today I didn’t eat lunch, because I didn’t have any money on me. Well, I did when I left home, but someone was coming around at work asking for donations for one of the workers at my company. He had just lost his sight last week (it had been degenerating for some time) and I know him personally, so I reached into my pocket and grabbed what I had. Turned out I didn’t have any more money later on for lunch, and there’s no bank machines where I work.

    You know what, it didn’t matter. I guess I could have borrowed some from someone else but I thought, “not today”. My turn to give again, because someday I might need help.

  • Brett Legree


    I think most people would, or I hope they would. I didn’t really even think about it, and then later when I realized that was all I had, I thought “so what, I helped someone who needed it more”.

    I guess one way to start the “cloning program” is for us to lead by example – others will pick up the torch.