Are You A Giver or A Taker?

Monday June 24, 2013 comments

The following is an excerpt from my book, Living an Extraordinary Life, and amplifies a theme I often promote in the public speaker aspect of my career – that being a “giver” pays big dividends personally and professionally. It’s especially valuable for current and aspiring leaders or those who want to learn more about team leadership. I hope it is of value to you!

“Look at the life of the thousands of everyday heroes, the leaders in your community and you know that there are givers in the world, people who in most every situation ask: “What can I contribute here? What can I give?” People who choose to live life in that way inspire us and allow us to be in touch with our own natural inclination to give.

Then look around at the apathy, greed, violence, child abuse, and discrimination in the world, and you know that there are takers as well. People who ask: “What’s in it for me? What can I get?”


You and I have plenty of excuses for being takers. Ultimately those excuses all come back to our underlying beliefs. You might believe you have only a finite amount to give, as if you'll somehow show up empty, like a car that has run out of gas, when you give. People are actually the opposite of motor vehicles. We are only empty when we don't give of ourselves.

Or maybe you gave to someone many times, only to feel like it was always thrown back in your face. Or perhaps you felt your giving went unappreciated. If you’ve experienced your giving being rejected, or unacknowledged, you probably have a belief that giving is either painful or not worth the trouble. Better to look out for Number One, you think, otherwise nobody else will. It is useful to remember that giving is, in a way, both a selfish and self-less act. It is a win/win game. Both the giver and the receiver benefit. What we know for certain is that in the game called “taking,” nobody wins.

My former wife Dianna and I experienced the privilege, the joy and the challenges of adopting two children with special needs – Levi and Emily. Both experienced truly horrific beginnings to their lives with somewhat predictable behavioral problems when they joined our family. Often someone would say, with the best of intentions, “you’re so wonderful to have done this for these children.” We learned to simply say, in most circumstances, “Thank you” and acknowledge that yes, we did contribute to their development into wonderful young people.


What was more real for us – and what we learned many people could not quite accept – would have been to share openly how much each of us gained from whatever contribution we made to Levi and Emily. These children of the heart and spirit, through their respective and unique life journeys, assisted Dianna and me in healing our own damaged inner child. As they struggled to become whole in spite of their rough beginnings, they taught us so much and our gratitude is total.

I want to be able to say this in way that penetrates deep into your being: Everything I’ve learned about this complicated existence called ‘being human’ and amplified by the experience of working with Levi and Emily and with hundreds of thousands of people, tells me that most or even all of the average person’s neuroses and hang-ups disappear when they start giving and serving others. It’s that simple. If you’re feeling “down” or ineffective or confused or all those conditions where you’re being in a less-resourceful state … just find a way to give, to contribute to others. Doing that will transform your experience of life from ordinary to extraordinary more than any other single known choice.”

Interested in hearing more? Visit my website for information about my book, Allow my experience in leadership training to benefit you and your company through speaking engagements and seminars!