Become a Giving Tree

Accountability Kindness


Key Point: Lets intentionally give more of ourselves. It’s that simple, and obviously hard to do for many of us. Tony Robbins is a life coach and bestselling author who has published five books in 14 languages. If you aren’t already familiar with his work, take a look at his long list of awards and accomplishments. You get the point: Robbins is very successful in many ways, not the least being financially. 

Robbins is sharing his wealth by writing a personal check that’ll feed 50 million people in 2015 through Feeding America. That’s a “wow!” Feeding America is the largest and (many consider) it the most effective hunger relief organization. It’s hard to believe 47 million people, including 17 million children in America go to bed every night unsure if they’re going to have a meal the next day. 

As a very young man, Robbins was literally broke and destitute. He recalls a day when he used $17 dollars out of his last $20 bucks to help another person. Robbins vividly remembers that moment because the next day he unexpectedly received a check in the mail from someone who owed him money. He says, “That’s the day that scarcity ended in me. And that didn’t mean I didn’t have more ups and downs financially. I had plenty of those but I never ever went back to that place of being angry with somebody else who had more or blaming other people. Whether they got what they did fairly or unfairly, who the hell am I to say? What I want to do is focus instead on being a blessing in people’s lives. That if I can find a way every day to do something to add more value for other people then I wouldn’t have to worry about anything. Just like you don’t worry about taking a breath whether oxygen is going to be there. You don’t ask the question, you know it’s going to be there. I figured if I left my life that way where I spontaneously did what was right consistently I wouldn’t have to worry and I haven’t another day since. That doesn’t mean I didn’t have stressful times but I haven’t gone back to that place of scarcity.” 

On another note, my seatmate on a recent flight told me about his grandparents. His grandmother had passed away and he was retuning from her funeral. His grandparents were married for 73 years. They jointly worked as school janitors until they were in their 90’s. Every year for most of their married life, they collected bottles and cans from the ditches of local Lethbridge, Alberta highways and as a result gave thousands of dollars annually to a Lethbridge charity. One might argue that as janitors they never had enough money, but as giving people there were as wealthy as a Gates or Buffett

This week our 7-year-old second grade grandson, Logan, asked his mom if they could create a giving tree for the homeless that populate his community. He had heard the story from his Auntie of someone doing something similar to this in New York. So, he and his mom collected and bought things that the homeless might need, packaged them in see through plastic bags and hung them on what Logan dubbed as the “Giving Tree” in a park near their home.

photo 1Just as Logan and his mom finished hanging their gifts, a homeless man, shivering in the wet Seattle cold, helped himself to hat and mitts that were hung on the tree. I talked to Logan about this experience and his sense of personal goodwill in helping others was palpable. What a beautiful, everlasting sense of generosity. As Robbins notes, “giving without any sense of reciprocation results in a spiritual shift.” Thank you Logan (and his mom). 

Character Moves: 

  1. Each of us is wired to be a literal “giving tree.” Although, sometimes we lose our way and we need a reminder. So just make it part of you to GIVE more. It doesn’t have to be a lot. However, the research notes that if we make sincere, intentional giving as a regular part of our life, we flat out feel better about ourselves and the world we live in.
  1. Think about five minutes of giving a day. Wharton professor, Adam Grant, encourages us to think of doing “5 minute favors,” a concept made famous by serial entrepreneur Adam Rifkin. Five minute favors could include things like making introductions, giving feedback, providing recommendations for others, etc. Grant emphasizes how spending just five minutes to help someone can go along way in building relationships too.
  1. Ask others what they’re working on, and give accordingly. Grant’s advice to people who want to become givers, and really add value to the life of others is to pay attention to what people need, what they are working on, and what keeps them up at night. We often ask people “How are you doing?” but don’t really ask them, “What are you working on?” Grant believes that the latter question is where givers should begin, because once you know this, you can easily offer to help them if it’s within your expertise, or connect them with someone you know.

Become that Giving Tree in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: Sometimes charity or “giving” to organizations seems to be “out of sight, out of mind,” and something that’s easy for a millennial to put off for now. Since we’re all likely holiday shopping, a lot of cool merchandise you may buy for loved ones can also be attached to giving back to good causes, like these somewhat trendy Lokai bracelets that donate 10 percent of their profits to charitable alliances. Financial contributions aside, five-minute favors are extremely tangible… Start by thanking a vet, fire fighter, or police officer for their service… That goes a long way.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis