I do not understand the mystery of grace — only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us.
I have always appreciated the statement: don’t give back, just give. I do not remember where I heard this statement many years ago, but it has been one that has stuck with me. As we continue to think about Leading with L.E.S.S. and beginning with love, this statement is vital in putting people first and taking a heart first approach to our work and our leadership.
It may be a small nuance, but “giving back” implies that you were granted or given something first and now you are trying to repay the debt. I am by no means arguing that this is a bad idea, but as a leader, it cannot just be about repayment. We must be willing to just give. Leading from the heart means we are willing to give regardless of what we have received or could gain. It is really easy to give and support those who have given their time, efforts, and love to support us. You may have experienced at some point in your life that it is not easy to give to those who are not gracious, or are just rude on the receiving end. The problem is if you want to change a classroom, a school, or a community, you must be willing to give, love, and support those who resist it the most- they often need it the most.
Giving to the positive people in our lives is easy because it feels good. We find a way to support… they show their appreciation… and everyone leaves feeling great about what just occurred. It makes us feel good about our efforts as the admiration and love are returned. Giving to the negative folks in our lives, on the other hand, does not always feel good, in fact, it can be downright infuriating. We give and give, but never seem to get any reciprocation. But, if we only give for what we get in return, then what are our motives in giving in the first place. It’s really just about ourselves.
This idea reminds me of a video from Michael Jr. (http://bit.ly/2GhkmQt). I love the line at the end of this video:
If we can just stop asking the question, “what can I get for myself?” and start asking, “what can I give from myself?”
We could all use a little more of this type of thinking. Asking less of what does the world do “for me,” and asking more of what does the world need “from me?” When we are only worried about giving back, then we are ultimately, down deep, creating a “for me” behavior. (I am only going to give if I will get or have gotten something in the return. If I am not going to get anything in return, whether physically, mentally, or emotionally, then why should I invest my time?) When we are not concerned with giving back, and just worry about giving, we can then focus on the “from me” behavior.
“For me” creates a self-centered, egotistical environment. “For me” creates behavior that is entrenched in standards and norms of what we believe is expected. “For me” behavior creates judgement and bigotry. “For me” behavior creates stagnation and keeps us seeing the same results we have always gotten, while blaming others for those outcomes. “For me” behavior is a horrible way to live because nothing will ever be enough.
“From me” is centered around service and love. “From me” creates behavior that is more concerned with getting things done, rather than getting the credit for what is done. “From me” behavior allows what is right to rule over who is right. “From me” behavior creates new avenues and paths to success for all. “From me” behavior is a life worth living; a life that makes the world a better place.
I believe that if we would meet every situation with love and acceptance first, then we would be able to empathize and come to a positive solution together. We can focus on just giving, regardless of what we might get in return. It is not about what we get, just what we are willing to give. Probably the most important time to make sure our focus is set on this type of behavior is when it is really hard to do. When it is hard to give to someone because of their attitude and behavior is when it is most important to start with love and see what the situation needs from you, rather than what can be done. Once this happens, then we can truly begin to create a environment that values people, changes lives, and leads with loves first.
If you want to change the culture of your school, do not worry about giving back, just give! It will not be easy, and it most definitely will not be quick, but it is vital to success.