“If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, then we are not giving enough.” Charles Dickens
I have long loved this quote from the great British novelist. It prompts me to introspect: does my charity, or giving (and I’m using that term very broadly), hamper me just a little bit?
For most of my life, I employed this quote to examine myself in a somewhat condemnatory way, wagging-the-finger fashion. ARE YOU GIVING ENOUGH?
I don’t think that’s how Dickens intended us to think about it; at least, that’s not how I choose to think about it anymore. I’m looking for gentler reflectiveness, more encouragement, and less shaming. Could you give more? Could you do more? Could you be more?
That was on my mind a few days ago. I planned to attend a Christmas concert at Southern Virginia University on Sunday evening. I wanted to support the student performers, and I wanted to support my husband, who both works and volunteers at the university. I love Christmas music. The event and I seemed like a match made in heaven.
But when the time arrived, I also very much wanted to stay home and do the proverbial “roasting of chestnuts on an open fire.” The possibility of a different perfect match was alluring.
Then the above quote from Dickens came to mind, and I asked, “Can I hamper myself just a little bit? It’s not a significant amount of time; it’s a few hours. And I said I would go, so there’s the business of keeping my word, too.
So, I went. We went.
It was delightful and uplifting. As I’ve shared before, I love being around this cohort of college students. They’re on the cusp of their adult lives, interested and interesting, determined but still wondering who and what, and how they want to be.
I suppose my charity ‘hampered’ me, but it didn’t really. I entered my week full of optimism because of the time spent at this Christmas concert.
“You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” John C. Maxwell, American Author
The point is that it wasn’t the accusatory, YOU COULD DO MORE, that persuaded me. It was the gentle, “You could be a little different, a little better, a little kinder. A little more generous in giving of yourself.”
That’s the voice I want to pay attention to, and those are the ideas and the moments of inspiration I would encourage you to pay attention to this holiday season. Let’s all be willing to be a little pinched and hampered for the holidays.
Quick side note: as others are giving to you, here’s a reminder to be generous in receiving compliments.
Our podcast guest this week is Tom Peters, co-author of In Search of Excellence which has sold over 10 million copies. For over 40 years, Tom has been simplifying management concepts and espousing the virtue that what truly matters most is “people.”
I always love talking to him, and, as you’ll hear in the episode, I especially appreciate how generous he’s been to my daughter.
P.S. We will do a solo episode of the podcast in two weeks, highlighting favorite podcast episodes (or the most impactful). Hit reply and share yours. I’d love to hear from you!