generosityI never went to business school, but I certainly grew up in the family school of business.

My grandfather, father, and mother were all successful entrepreneurs, and being the child of people all living and breathing their work and community was a school unto itself.

The rules my parents and grandfather taught while active in business were:

  • Do not go into partnership with family or friends
  • Office away from those you live with
  • Give away as much money as you can and then a little bit more
  • Be overly generous in money and forgiveness with employees and less generous with yourself

As time passed and the business became more stable, the rules changed a bit. I went into business with my mother, and later a friend and I started a company together.

All of us – family and friends work in the same office space, relishing every moment together. Even the axiom about being hard on oneself softened. However the rules of giving and generosity of spirit never wavered. In fact, it became even more imperative as our success increased. There was clearly an inverse relationship between wealth and philanthropy.

The more we made, the more we gave and the more we gave the more we made.

One year my parents actually measured the percentage growth in their income as a comparison to their donations.They discovered that the years they stretched beyond their means resulted in a significantly higher return in their income. Their employee turnover was lower and productivity higher.

I do not believe this was an accident. Perhaps it gives us insight into the word coincidence. The relationship between giving and receiving is not random. In all things we do, our return is a direct result of our effort, including helping others.

On the surface it seems quite obvious, perhaps a bit cliché, but a much deeper process is in play when it comes to this duality.

Is there an atmospheric change when a person is generous? Does the work environment shift with the fundamental values of the leaders?

People become more open to everything when they are unsparing with their money and heart. New ideas are not as threatening and therefore creativity innovation within a working environment increases. Laughter rather than gossip fills the air.

Sharing the bounty of wealth creates a kind of protective bubble around those who give because so many others seek to support the work and reputation of those who are generous.

Human frailty and mistakes are more easily forgiven when those who erred are more often in the role of giver and forgiver. These lessons are not often taught in university classrooms or how to succeed in business books, but for those lucky enough to witness this crucial lesson and apply it to their personal and professional life will undoubtedly benefit.

Originally published on LinkedIn.

By Jaynie Schultz
Jaynie Schultz co-founded Retreat Central in 2008 to serve planners looking for facilities outside of the traditional hotel market. She created the now-closed Garrett Creek Ranch retreat center with her mother more than 20 years ago, working as its founding director of sales and marketing. She is involved in many non-profit organizations and leadership development programs.

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