I must’ve been 16 years old and I’d been cycling for about a year or so. I’d head off with my friends on 60 and 80Km bike rides up into the Wicklow Mountains. Wicklow is called the Garden of Ireland so you can imagine how beautiful it is up there. I remember one particular ride because on this occasion I was unfortunate enough to get two punctures! I had a spare tube but when I got the second puncture my friend, Conor, gave me his spare…of course I promised to pay him back. The next day he popped over (we lived on the same road) and I gave him the tube. Conor looked at it and said, “This is a pretty cheap tube, the one I gave you is much better quality.” I sheepishly tried to argue that a tube’s a tube and what’s the big deal. Conor wouldn’t accept the tube and left. Unfortunately…or maybe fortunately…my mother overheard the conversation and asked for a chat. I knew I was in trouble. She inquired about the situation and the facts at hand. She took the tube in her hands, looked it over and then looked me. I’ll never forget what she said to me that day. The lesson has stuck with me ever since.
When you get older, you learn certain life lessons. You apply that wisdom, and suddenly you say, ‘Hey, I’ve got a new lease on this thing. So let’s go.’ ~ Robert Redford
“Is this how you want your friends to think about you? Is this how you want to be seen as a person?” She went on to explain that when someone gives me something or when someone asks me for something I should be the type of person who gives them more than they ask for, “That’s the type of person I want my son to be.” What could I say to that! And so, I jumped on my bike and bought Conor two new, good quality, tubes. Of course, he would only accept one but I left him with a much better impression of me. This memory came rushing back to me last week when I was walking down Lambton Quay and a panhandler asked for a dollar. I reached into my pocket and pulled out 2 one-dollar coins. Don’t be a one-dollar person, I said to myself, be a two-dollar person. I handed him the money, he thanked me and I thanked him back. I appreciated the memory that he brought back for me.
To live a pure unselfish life, one must count nothing as one’s own in the midst of abundance ~ Buddha
Maybe not directly, but certainly indirectly there is a lesson here that we should all take note of. In work we’re often asked to do more with less. This of course leads to conflict among teams and individuals because resources…time, budgets, human capital…are stretched thin. There’s only so many ways you can slice the pie after all…if you have a default of a scarcity mind-set. Thinking that there can only be one pie in the first place certainly constrains our thinking. Why not think about making another pie! If it’s true that we get what we focus on, then if we focus on what we don’t have (or how tough things are) we fail to look beyond these limits for solutions. If we have an abundance mind-set we will always look for ways where there is enough for everyone. Even if the reality of the situation clearly dictates that physical resources are limited isn’t it possible to still come up with a solution that will work for everyone? You see, true creativity can only be born within constraints. The English alphabet only has 26 letters, but look at all the beautiful poetry that has been created through this constraint. There are only 12 starting notes in music but our lives are so much richer because of the creativity of Bach and Beethoven and so many other great artists out there.
I believe there is always a way (in fact, it’s one of our core values ~ Resourcefulness). The next time someone comes to you looking for help, be a two-dollar person. Give them more than what they expected. If nothing else, give them your time, your consideration, your energy, and your creativity…it’s all too easy to brush them off because it’s too hard. After all, how do you want to be remembered as a person?