X Zenith 42 has a question. “The team talks about generosity. Can you elaborate on where monetary giving versus giving your time or volunteering fits into the Financial Order of Operations?”
That’s awesome Brian, I’m going to leave the “where does it fit in the foo” to you. But, I do think what I love is that if you listen to our stuff and if you go through our courses, you’ll notice that giving and generosity are something that is riddled all throughout. It’s very purposeful because that’s something that is really important to us. Brian and I can both look back on our careers and lives, and we can very tangibly point to how the generosity of another person or entity enabled us to do something. It’s because of the generosity of another that I was able to have this opportunity that I was able to advance. So, we really believe that now that we’ve been blessed with the success we have and we have the audience that we have, we want to be able to give back and support others around them.
What I love though is that generosity and giving are not just about money. It’s great if you have the means and resources to write a check, but maybe life is still tight, or you’re young, and so you can’t write a check. However, one of the great things that you can do is volunteer. Maybe you’re an expert in some field, and you can volunteer to help people fill out their tax returns and provide pro bono financial planning services. Maybe you’re an expert in carpentry, electrical, or marketing. I think one of the beautiful things you can do is figuring out how you can use your time or skill set to make the world around you better.
Perhaps you’re someone who is a little bit older, a little bit longer in the tooth, and you recognize that you have a lot of wisdom. You’ve lived a lot of life and done a lot of things in your life. It might be valuable if you went and spoke to a college class or talked to a group of young professionals to begin sharing with them some of the mistakes you’ve made or some of the things you’ve done as a means and mechanism to give back. I think it’s always so important, especially this time of year, to think about that not just in terms of the dollars and cents you can write checks for.
I think generosity is something that anyone who has been around us knows that we talk about a lot. You see our Financial Order of Operations, and step zero is being generous. Giving is riddled throughout all of our courses. Bo covered a lot of it, and he’s better at this than me. I came to it later in life, probably later than I should have. Bo, has been very generous with both his time and his money, even when he didn’t have a lot. I’ve always been really impressed with that.
Here’s why I think it’s important: I want to get to the “why” part of this. I have found in my own walk of life that one of the things I try to instill in my children is to be as selfless as possible. If you can say thank you, tell people you care about how much they mean to you, and express that well, life is just better. I know that’s so counter to the consumption society we live in. I have found that the more selfless I am, the better steward I am when I have a lot. Those who are good when they have a little and then they get a lot, because money does some weird things to you, especially if you start having success with money.
Those who are good when they have little and then get a lot are good stewards. Money does some weird things to you, especially when you start having success with it. Sometimes rich people just suck, and you don’t want to be too high up on the food chain because you realize how weird wealthy people are. You get surrounded by yes-people and start thinking you have figured something out, which gets you further away from selfless to selfish. When you get money and can buy anything you want, you realize how kind of empty it is.
If you can learn to get outside of yourself and be very selfless, you will be a better person. So much of the world is selfish, and it’s a human nature characteristic to be somewhat selfish. The habit of generosity, even when you have little, can keep you in a humble place. There are religious and spiritual reasons, but from a personal trait perspective, you will be a better person if you can be very selfless. That’s why we throw the donate your time go to go do something.
Generosity is step zero of the Financial Order of Operations so that as you get more and more resources, you’ll be so much better at being a steward of it and do a really good job with it. Generosity is something that you can get better at. Early on, when my wife and I gave money away, it was painful, but it got easier. We always want to make sure that we’re giving generously enough that it feels right.
Generosity is something you also need to test yourself and check yourself to not get too comfortable and too complacent. If you can do that through time, the benefits are amazing. This entire show, this entire enterprise was really a mechanism for figuring out how to give back to the financial world around me.
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