By Lee Colan
You don’t have to become an industrial baron and make a billion dollars to live a life of significance. All you have to do is share the resources you now have. However insignificant you may think they are, they are of greater value to someone not so fortunate as you.
The straightforward way to live a life of significance is simply to share your three T’s: time, talent, and treasure. Our lives are meant to be given away- to significant purposes, to loving families, to friends in need, to lasting relationships.
Find a way that your gifts can serve others. Your time, energy, and money are precious resources- they are limited and you are the sole owner. If you spend them in one area, you can’t spend them in another. When we say yes to one thing, by default we are saying no to something else. The key to winning is to say yes to the significant things in your life.
It’s a paradox of life that only by giving away our time do we make our lives meaningful, for time is the most precious gift of all. The time we spend playing with a child or grandchild, chatting with a bedridden friend, mowing a neighbor’s lawn, teaching another adult to read, cannot be measured in money but is priceless.
Life’s rewards those who donate their time, first in terms of their own satisfaction and the good opinion of others, later in ways they can never foresee. The time may come when you need a hand, and there will be many more hands offering help than you can count.
There’s something especially rewarding about applying your best talents toward the benefit of others. The way to make the greatest contribution with your talent is by recognizing and using your strengths. Most types of sports equipment- golf clubs, tennis racquets, baseball bats- have a certain spot called the “sweet spot.”
Hitting the ball with that spot yields optimal results: a long drive down the fairway, a swift cross court return, a home run. If you’ve experienced it, you know that when you hit the sweet spot you barely feel it, but the ball seems to know where you want it to go.
Okay, maybe you’re not an athletic superstar. But whatever you endeavor to do, there’s a sweet spot that you sometimes hit that makes everything seem easier. Sometimes the sweet spot can be thought of as a set of skills that you can apply to something you want to accomplish, such as helping others.
Want to know an easy way to find your sweet spot? Answer the following two questions, and think about how your answers intersect:
- What am I absolutely passionate about?
- Which tasks are easy and natural for me?
Most of us recognize the feeling of significance we get when we’re living in our sweet spot. Others tell us we make it look easy, that we really excel, that we seem to be having a ball, that we’re “in the zone.”
When was the last time others said something like this to you? What were you doing? Like finding any sweet spot, it’s worth hitting these questions around for awhile and finding your answers. Then you’ll be ready to serve up your winning shot.
You don’t have to be rich to donate your treasure to others- an insignificant part of your modest holdings can be a fortune to others– but stories of truly generous wealthy people lift all our spirits. Here’s one.
In 1981, business leader and self-made millionaire Eugene Lang looked out at the faces of the 59 African American and Puerto Rican sixth-graders who had come to hear him speak. Years earlier, Lang had attended this same school in East Harlem. Now, he wondered how he could get these children to listen to him. What could he say to inspire these students when, statistically, most would probably drop out of school before graduation?
Finally, scrapping his notes, he spoke from his heart. “Stay in school,” he told them. “If you do, I’ll help pay the college tuition for every one of you.”
At that moment, he changed the life of every student in the room. For the first time, they had hope- hope of achieving more than their older brothers and sisters, hope of living a better life than their parents and neighbors.
Six years later, nearly 90 percent of that class graduated from high school, and true to his promise, Lang made it possible for them to attend college. A few years later he founded the “I Have a Dream” Foundation, which has supported similar projects in 57 cities, assisted by more than 200 sponsors helping more than 12,000 disadvantaged students with academic support and guidance through high school and a college education.
Give to Receive
There’s a Chinese proverb that says, “If you continually give, you will continually have.” The person who first said that may have been a farmer, because creating a life of significance is a lot like growing The Indian Thorny bamboo.
When planted, this bamboo takes up to two years before sprouting through the surface. It requires the right combination of water, sunlight, care, and feeding to build a strong root structure and foundation for growth, and none of this growing foundation is visible aboveground. But once it sprouts, bamboo can grow 100 feet in two weeks. Patience is a prerequisite for the bamboo farmer- and for anyone who seeks to build a life of significance.
Be impatient to plant the seeds of significance, but patient enough to nurture them and watch them grow!
Read the full article here.
This content was originally published by Inc Magazine. Original publishers retain all rights. It appears here for a limited time before automated archiving. By Inc Magazine