When a pen is worth more than a Bentley and how you value Generosity Imagine receiving two gifts from two people: 1 – a Bentley from the King of Saudi Arabia 2 – a pen from a friend At first glance, the car will outshine any writing device that could land on your desk. It’s a Bentley for Christ sake! At second glance, where are these gifts coming from? The King can effortlessly afford to gift-away 10 Bentleys a day for the rest of his life, and his children can continue to do the same for three generations. The cost to them is so insignificant, that this gift comes from a bottomless hole. On the other hand, your neighbor doesn’t have access to oil fields, family fortunes, and/or ultra-wealthy business connections. Your neighbor has about the same resources as you, maybe a little more, maybe a little less – but pretty much the same. A $2 pen is a small piece of what they have – but it’s still a small nibble out of their everyday meal. Where do you place value? Let’s say it’s not a Bentley, let say it’s something that could be really useful to your life today. If you’re a carpenter – a state of the art wood mill; if you’re the owner of a stalling business – all new equipment & furniture; if you’re writing a new chapter in your life – a big house, car, and total security for 20 years; et cetera… Whatever shiny dream you may have that could (potentially) solve ALL your problems – that’s what the King is giving you. Yes – there would be tremendous value in these things, and I’m not discounting that. However, do you place value based on where the gift is coming from? Your neighbor has limited resources. Whatever they give you, although it might not fulfill all your dreams & needs, is what they can give you. Personal touch or Price tag? When your coffee shop makes you a free coffee, when your associate works for months alone to breathe life back into your business, or when a friend offers you a place in their home & heart – this is infinitely more valuable to them than a Bentley is to the King. Do you value this based on the source, or do you disregard it’s value in the hopes of getting (or having gotten) something better? A little story and then I’ll get back to the main point: Two years ago around Christmas time, my daughter (9 years old) surprised me. She wrapped an old phone, overdue bills, and a mandarin in aluminum foil. She used the only resources she had. It didn’t solve my problems but I’ll remember this over any of the super expensive gifts I’ve received throughout my life. I’m not saying that a dusty old phone in foil should always be cherished – but when it’s coming from someone who has little else to give – then what do you call the person who sneers at this offering? Advice to YOU In business or your personal life: step back and see where the offering is coming from. Is this person the King or your neighbor? Is the gift just a meaningless token or does it come from their heart? Wherever it comes from and whether (or not) it fills some of your needs – be grateful, graceful, and respectful enough to show them appreciation. To them, this exchange will be remembered as a cherished memory or a spit in the face.