“I’ve learned that people will forget what you’ve said, people will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”
― Maya Angelou
To understand the best way forward, we often have to look back.
A typical beginning for any career is figuring out how to get the best job, with the right title and the highest pay. A typical ending to any career is figuring out how to give back. The wise ones figure this out sooner rather than later. The even wiser figure out that the quickest path to the getting is in the giving.
An Itch To Give Back
In a recent article in the Atlantic, “What I Learned About Life at My 30th College Reunion,” writer Deborah Copaken observed a number of trends from attending her 30-year college reunion at Harvard.
“No one’s life turned out exactly as anticipated, not even for the most ardent planner.”
“Every classmate who became a teacher or doctor seemed happy with the choice of career.”
“Nearly every single banker or fund manager wanted to find a way to use accrued wealth to give back….”
“[T]hose who went into [art] as a career were mostly happy and often successful, but they had all, in some way, struggled financially.”
“In our early 50s, people seem to feel a pressing need to speak truths and give thanks and kindness to one another before it’s too late to do so.”
The doctors, teachers and artists―careers fundamentally focused on giving―were notably fulfilled. Those who had followed the money were now in search of a way to contribute and give back. But giving seems to be so core to who we are that somehow as we grew older, an internal need arises to give back “before it’s too late.”
Giving is often misconstrued as a quid pro quo. Our gut reaction is to think, “If I give, what will I get in return?” But giving plays an unrecognized role in getting. Former Girl Scouts CEO Frances Hesselbein is just one example.