Breakthrough Belief #2: I will only become a true giver when I learn to receive!
Let me ask a few important questions about giving and receiving. How many of us find it much more comfortable to give a compliment than to receive one? How many of us squirm away from compliments quickly, thinking something like, “If you’d seen me this morning, you wouldn’t be saying that?” How many of us feel that if we allow ourselves to enjoy a compliment, we are not being humble or modest?
Conversely, how do we feel inside when we give to others? Isn’t it one of the best feelings of all? When we really think about it, what is receiving?
Receiving is allowing others to feel the joy of giving. And when we receive poorly, we snatch that feeling of joy away.
So, if we truly want to help others become generous, to become givers and authentic leaders, if we want them to feel the joy of giving that we ourselves love so much, we must be open to a WOO most of us have never been taught: learning to receive.
In the last year of my coaching career, my senior swimmers plotted a special birthday surprise for me. They each wrote me personal cards and hid them with a big cake and other goodies in the weight room. About halfway through practice that evening, Joe, one of my top swimmers, called out: “Coach, can we have relays tonight?”
I responded, “If you all work extra hard on this next set, we’ll end practice with fifteen minutes of relays.”
Little did I know that Joe’s question was actually a secret signal to all the kids, because as soon as I set them off on the drill, they all sped to the end of the pool and climbed out. I had a mutiny on my hands!
Deep down inside I knew that this extraordinary behavior had something to do with my birthday. But at that time in my life, I wouldn’t receive. I didn’t understand what it meant. I was not a leader. I was a martyr.
So, before the kids could get to the locker room and spring their surprise for me, I exploded at them. In a seething, intense growl of a voice I attacked them… “What do you think you’re doing? Is this the kind of discipline we have on this team? This is just some excuse to get out of practice, isn’t it?”
I’m not proud of my behavior that day.
Five seconds before, the kids could have touched the sky. Now they froze where they were, not knowing whether to run and hide in the locker room or jump back in the pool and pretend nothing had happened. As they stood there devastated, I looked into the stricken faces of these kids I adored, many of them with tears in their eyes, and I was suddenly swallowed by remorse. In that moment I finally realized what I was taking away because I couldn’t receive.
So, we had the party. It really wasn’t that much fun because I’d pretty well killed the atmosphere. But from that day on I was determined to receive every gift or compliment with a heartfelt “Thank you!”
Never again would I take away anyone’s joy of giving.
Have you ever considered how much your appreciation really means? From a leadership perspective, those two words, “thank you,” are perhaps the most important words to voice when it comes to building people, relationships, and teams. Opportunities to express genuine gratitude are among the most impactful WOOs of all, because when teammates feel appreciated, they engage. They rise up and make the life-changing shift from “Oh no!” to “Oh yeah!”
It is every bit as important for leaders to receive thanks graciously and genuinely as it is to give them.
When you warmly receive others’ thanks, you are teaching them that appreciation is not hierarchical but all-directional. The combination of giving and receiving gratitude creates organizations and families filled with personal responsibility and the belief that everyone is a leader and that everyone can make a difference.
When we only give thanks but don’t receive them well, we diminish others’ belief that by bringing an attitude of gratitude to the team every single day they can lift everyone around them.
What’s more, we will never be truly abundant until we learn to receive with real appreciation, because anytime abundance comes our way, we will find ways to sabotage ourselves and push it away. If receiving poorly becomes a habit and our automatic response to compliments and gifts, we will build the disempowering belief within ourselves that we are not worthy of receiving.
I know. I owned one of the largest swimming programs in the United States and I constantly struggled financially. It was only when I opened my heart to receiving and when I understood that my energy was my choice that I began
a new path that has brought me real wealth: a family I adore, work I treasure, and the financial prosperity to live in a wonderful home, travel to incredible places, help others along the way, and enjoy every precious moment.
A WOO for You…
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