I’ve learned something these past two decades.  Give..It comes back tenfold.

Let me tell you a story to illustrate what I mean.

Back in the mid-90’s I got involved with Dress for Success while living in New York City.   At the time, I had about nine years of business suits and career accessories I wanted to donate (I had just ventured out on my own as a communications and public relations consultant and wanted to freshen my look).  While my initial interest was only to pair down my closet, I soon became enamored by the organization’s mission of helping low-income, vulnerable women transition from welfare to work. I realized that my skills could help this nascent group get off the ground.  So I volunteered my professional services.  I agreed to serve on the Board of Directors and to orchestrate a kick-off event at Manhattan’s Motown Cafe.  The goal was to generate national visibility and create a global platform.  As is common with events, this one took on a life of its own, dominating my time and energy to hustle paying clients.  More than a couple of intelligent people questioned my focus. “Why are you doing this for free?” they asked. But I honored my commitment, focusing on making the event a home-run.  It never occurred to me that this “good deed”  would give me so much more than I had actually given. How? I was approached by — and landed – a few big corporate clients; I gained a new rolodex of editorial contacts; and I found real clarity and purpose in the vital role that service would play in my life.  All of which was gravy to Dress for Success; soon after, they exploded with growth…

I’ve always remembered this important lesson about giving.  Looking back, the maxim “Give..it comes back tenfold” has held up consistently across so many areas of my life.  When I volunteer time or money to a worthy organization, I am rewarded by a deep feeling of satisfaction.  When I act as a good friend, I feel connected to others.  When I  lend counsel or inspiration to someone in need, I am reminded of my potential.  When I put myself out in the world, I learn that life is full of rewards.

Most of us don’t give to get.  We aren’t motivated to serve because we want a thank-you letter or a plaque.   And this is where the adventures begin – because you never know what gifts will come your way when you give of yourself — openly and with a whole heart.  Stronger faith, new perspective, new relationships, jobs, articles, books, trips?  The world awaits.

Read more about how you can live a life of service.  My friend, Malaak Compton Rock, has just published If it Takes A Village, Build One: How I Found Meaning Through a Life of Service and 100+ Ways You Can Too.  Malaak is founder of The Angel Rock Project and has inspired legions of everyday folks – me included – to commit and commit again to service as a guiding vision.  For each copy of the book purchased until July 6th, 2010, Malaak will donate $1 to The Global Fund, which supports the very worthy RED campaign. I urge you to read her book, but mostly, I urge you to think about how giving (in small and large ways) transforms your life.  It’s contagious, I think…

“The fragrance always stays in the hand that gives the rose.”  – Hada Bejar

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