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Why Generosity Sets Leaders Apart

For centuries, this holiday season—may I use the word Christmas—has been about generous giving. It is during this season we hear stories that warm our hearts. They restore our faith in people.

I live in the greater Atlanta area. There has been a phenomenon taking place in the metro area that has grown into a full-fledged news story on the radio. In several quick-service restaurants, a customer has pulled up to the drive-through window and offered to pay for not only their own order, but also the car behind them. When the clerk asks if the second car is part of their family, the driver will respond, “No, this is just a random act of kindness.” (Or something to that effect).

For centuries, this holiday season—may I use the word Christmas—has been about generous giving. It is during this season we hear stories that warm our hearts. They restore our faith in people. I live in the greater Atlanta area. There has been a phenomenon taking place in the metro area that has grown into a full-fledged news story on the radio. In several quick-service restaurants, a customer has pulled up to the drive-through window and offered to pay for not only their own order, but also the car behind them. When the clerk asks if the second car is part of their family, the driver will respond, “No, this is just a random act of kindness.” (Or something to that effect).  What happens next is remarkable. When the second car pulls up to the window, they discover that the car in front of them has paid for their meals, but has already exited the parking lot and left the receiver unable to thank them. In many cases, they are so overjoyed, they offer to pay for the car behind them. Instead of paying it back, they pay it forward. It’s another random act. I spoke to one Chick-Fil-A Operator who told me this had happened at his store, and the record this year…was seventy-one (71) cars in a row. The pay-it-forward experience had continued non-stop for over 70 customers. Incredible. Leadership is all about giving. Everyone knows leaders aren’t supposed to be consumed with themselves. It’s a turn-off. This is why we get angry when we see a leader who is only out to help himself. He is still a consumer—and we know that leaders are supposed to be the primary contributor not a mere consumer. They are supposed to be about the “cause.” The fact is, leaders lose their right to be selfish. Selflessness is not only the mark of a good leader, it’s one of the ultimate signals of maturity in students. Babies are born completely self-absorbed. As they grow older, they realize there is a world beyond themselves. In the process, they are supposed to get past their own needs and wants and serve a greater cause. When teens never get this, we call them immature. When twenty-somethings still fail at this—we know we have a problem. There is something about this season that makes us generous and enables us to see what our world could look like if we all acted a little more like good leaders, not merely self-absorbed consumers or narcissists.  When leaders are generous, it shows they possess these characteristics: 1.Humility – They know life isn’t about them, it is about others. 2.Gratitude – They give because they know they have received from others. 3. Hope – They’re generous because they’re paying it forward into the future. May this be said about us. Why not kick start generosity this month?

photo credit: zzazazz via photopin cc

What happens next is remarkable. When the second car pulls up to the window, they discover that the car in front of them has paid for their meals, but has already exited the parking lot and left the receiver unable to thank them. In many cases, they are so overjoyed, they offer to pay for the car behind them. Instead of paying it back, they pay it forward. It’s another random act.

I spoke to one Chick-Fil-A Operator who told me this had happened at his store, and the record this year…was seventy-one (71) cars in a row. The pay-it-forward experience had continued non-stop for over 70 customers. Incredible.

Leadership is all about giving. Everyone knows leaders aren’t supposed to be consumed with themselves. It’s a turn-off. This is why we get angry when we see a leader who is only out to help himself. He is still a consumer—and we know that leaders are supposed to be the primary contributor not a mere consumer. They are supposed to be about the “cause.”

The fact is, leaders lose their right to be selfish. Selflessness is not only the mark of a good leader, it’s one of the ultimate signals of maturity in students. Babies are born completely self-absorbed. As they grow older, they realize there is a world beyond themselves. In the process, they are supposed to get past their own needs and wants and serve a greater cause. When teens never get this, we call them immature. When twenty-somethings still fail at this—we know we have a problem.

There is something about this season that makes us generous and enables us to see what our world could look like if we all acted a little more like good leaders, not merely self-absorbed consumers or narcissists.

When leaders are generous, it shows they possess these characteristics:

  1. Humility – They know life isn’t about them, it is about others.
  2. Gratitude – They give because they know they have received from others.
  3. Hope – They’re generous because they’re paying it forward into the future.

May this be said about us. Why not kick start generosity this month?

 

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Habitudes: Images That Form Leadership Habits and Attitudes

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Why Generosity Sets Leaders Apart