Years ago I was at a conference where I heard a talk by Nathan Clark of Wondermade Marshmallows (wonderful guy, wonderful company.) Nathan pointed out an illuminating fact about human behavior when he explained that in so many situations we’re trained to GIVE based on what we GET.
Think about it… how many times in a relationship have you noticed someone pull back with their affection and in response you pull back yours. Or in a gift exchange you find yourself trying to price-range-match based on what you expect to receive. Or to treat a customer or potential customer based on what they have given YOU in the past. In a sense we’re used to having a reciprocal, proportional response when it comes to giving. Anything else just isn’t “fair,” right?
Well the problem with this, as Nathan illustrated, is that this type of thinking just leads to a race to the bottom.
Let’s take a relationship, for example: It begins with two people giving their ALL, until something happens and one person can’t give their All anymore so that person starts giving a little less — maybe just their Best. The other person, feeling this inequity, starts to give a little less too, maybe lowering it to their Best. It’s two people giving their Best, until the same happens and it’s two people giving A Lot and then suddenly it’s a Little, until both people have matched each other right down to the very bottom and no one is giving anything at all. This is the inevitable conclusion of giving based on what you get.
But, it doesn’t have to be this way. What if we re-trained ourselves to give MORE than we get. To look at generosity as though it were SUPPOSED to be disproportionate. That the very nature of it is to go beyond what you expect to receive, especially in matters of the heart. When we give MORE than we get, there’s only more to go around, not less.