A while back I blogged here an email from a co-worker and my response to his reluctance to make a donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Several weeks has passed since and a few days ago I met with him again about making a donation to Team in Training and becoming a sponsor of my two half-Ironman and one full Ironman triathlons in 2006.
His original email read:
"What makes you so confident you can even complete your first Ironman? Isn't it too risky? Maybe I'll make a donation after you do your first, or if you decide to ever do another one."
And I replied:
"Some say we’re headed towards the future. I believe the truth is the future is headed towards us. And it’s in a hurry. We also generally think that the present makes sense only in light of the past. Again, we need to check our thinking. The present makes clearest sense in the light of the future. Some people like you prefer to write history by looking at the past. I like to turn that notion on its ear and create history ahead of time. Why forecast when I could backcast? I’ll begin with the end in mind. The future is always incipient in the present. I'll see you after crossing the finish line. Have no doubt in the future. Now, how about making that donation?"
It’s important to note that this co-worker is a senior veteran in my company and mentored me for a short time while I started my professional investing career. That was almost twenty years ago (jeeze I feel old just writing those words) and today we are peers but there will always be a senior to junior relationship between us and I am grateful he took time to teach me when I didn’t know squat. This made the meeting a bit awkward but, nonetheless, and most unashamedly, I was determined to keep asking for his support in this important cause.
After thinking about the original email I realized he not only lacked faith in me but also lacked understanding of why giving is better than receiving. So, I took the risk of offending my co-worker and prepared for what I hoped would be a valuable meeting for the both of us. To be sure that he would remember why I was asking him to make a donation now and not after I completed the three triathlons I wrote him a letter and gave it to him after our meeting. In part it reads…
Real giving means exactly that – you give something to someone without expecting anything back. There are some who preach a law of reciprocity, reminding us that if we give, God will repay us by an order of magnitude. I believe that is true, but is the expectation of “getting back” more than you gave really true giving? Seems to me this is what we call investing. Giving requires the purest of motives and a most unselfish of acts. It is very difficult to do. And it is a wondrous thing to behold!
What I’m asking of you is no small thing. Please don't donate solely because of our relationship or out of guilt or begrudging obligation. Donate because you want to contribute to a noble cause that needs your help. Donate because I need you in my corner. Without you I won't get the chance to race and save lives. Before you open your wallet; open your heart.
So, is it better to give than receive? Yes, but only if it's done with excitement and joy. I have learned that we receive in proportion to the selflessness our giving; not just the dollar amount. The more happily we give, the more happily we get. Almost without exception. I suggest that if you want to get more from life you have to learn to give more to life.
And when you want to receive more in a certain area of life then you have to give more in that area. Do you need more time? Then give more of your time away. Do you need more money? Then give some of the money you have away. What do you need? Give some of what you have away. Even if you only have a little of it. In fact, that’s usually when the biggest blessing comes – when you have given in an area where you most lack.
A Universal Law of Physics is, “Nature abhors a vacuum.” When you give away something, you create space for new things to flow toward you in that area. So, become joyfully generous and watch the happy results pour back in.
I also have learned that at some time we all need the support of somebody. That’s what I’m asking for today. Support me to get to the starting line. As far as crossing the finish line is concerned; I’ll take care of that on my own. In that I am most certain.
It’s been four days since that meeting and this morning I learned he donated $500 to the cause.
103 days to my first Ironman.