Career SkillsLessons on Leadership

Why Giving Back is Such a Critical Part of Living

By Jacquelyn Adams

Happy Giving Tuesday!

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and possibly followed it up with scoring some sweet deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But as much as I love snagging a bargain, today is even more near and dear to my heart. So please humor me this Giving Tuesday as we should consider our roles as givers.

Create a legacy

Friends, I don’t mean to sound trite, but this is what living is all about. Some clichés exist because they are valid, and in my opinion, that includes, “You can’t take it with you.” When it comes to your time, energy and finances, I encourage you to consider the legacy you are leaving behind. And to be very clear, I do not mean the immediately-posting-on-social-media-the-wonderful-things-I-am-doing digital legacy. We seriously don’t need any more of that. Instead, it would be great if we had an upsurge of people who showed up in the gaps, seeing a need and stretching themselves to fill it. If we could see past the daily trials and tribulations of our own lives to consider how we could show up for others? What would it cost us to live a life that inspired people to give? Whatever the cost, that is a legacy worth leaving.

Find your people and invest yourself

Do you have a favorite charity organization? Is there a group that makes you light up as you talk about the impact they have? If not, I recommend you find one. Because as much as organizations appreciate it when you cut them a check every month, there is still more out there that you can do. When you truly have a pulse on an organization, you know what their needs are. You know when they could use you (and maybe even a couple of your friends) to volunteer for an event. You know when their fundraising project needs an extra push. You can cite growth and progress that has been made. You know what happened last year, and what they are working towards next year. It is more than writing a check for a good cause each month; you are truly invested — and that makes a world of difference.

Know that it’s never too small

When we start talking about legacy, we often think of grand gestures. We think of having a wing at our alma mater named after us because of a big donation. We think of winning awards for our humanitarian accomplishments. However, too often, we miss the mark if this is where our mind is. There is a cherished saying from Mother Teresa, “Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” I believe that squarely hits the nail on the head. While it is incredible if we can fund the research that finds a cure for cancer, it is also fantastic to get an Uber for a stranger when their car breaks down. It is beautiful when we share dinner with a sick or elderly neighbor. It is daring when we take an honest look at the world around us, assess our resources, and see the difference we can make with our finances, time and energy. I will never have a grand legacy, but I hope to touch many lives in small ways and make the world a better place. I hope you do, too.

Be part of something bigger than yourself

We, as human beings, crave connection and meaning. As the Holocaust survivor Dr. Victor Frankl stated in his book Man’s Search for Meaning, “Man does not simply exist but always decides what his existence will be, what he will become in the next moment.”  When we connect our life’s mission to something that is greater than our own humble existence, we lead lives of greater purpose.

And, amidst all of this, I would be remiss if I signed off without mentioning IEEE (shameless plug). So, as you are thinking of your legacy, please consider the impact IEEE makes daily — the knowledge they help share and the young leaders they help mold. IEEE programs help educate and inspire the next generation of innovators and engineers, and illuminate the possibilities of technology to address global challenges.

As you look at your finances and even possibly time to volunteer, keep IEEE in mind. But no matter where or how you give, please choose to make a difference. Choose to leave a legacy. Choose to make an impact. Choose to give.

Jacquelyn Adams

Jacquelyn Adams, founder and CEO of Ristole, uses her column to delve into the wild world of leadership. Whether the article is about her days as a Peace Corp volunteer, exploring corporate training, or even grabbing lunch at Chipotle — she will come out with a story and her “top tips.” As she passionately believes in leveraging her platform to share others’ voices, her column welcomes guest bloggers to create a fuller and more diverse pool of experiences for her readership. So, welcome to “Lessons on Leadership” where you never know what the next article will hold: online networking advice, guidelines for creating a joyful workplace, or even puppies. Just keep reading to discover what’s next!

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