While the idea of having a “generous spirit” might be thought of as one that belongs in a Sunday morning service, there’s an argument—and quite a powerful one at that—that suggests it really is an idea that could change the world.
Let me start from the opposite of generous as the basis for this reflection on what is true and what isn’t.
When someone begins with the premise that “this is all there is” and therefore we must be “careful” as to how we divvy up our resources, we’re almost destined to come up short, both figuratively and literally.
But here’s another thought:
The spirit of giving can transcend a “what’s in it for me?” kind of thinking, one that constantly weighs the cost with the benefit.
That’s not generosity. It’s transactional in nature and is something that brings with it an earned reward. We get what we pay for and nothing more.
What starts to change the world in a sense is when people begin to invest in making a difference without consideration for how they will benefit.
I saw a little of this taking place when I interviewed Matt Hutchinson and Courtney Neilson, two of the people involved with Enactus Lambton College.
Matt is the faculty advisor of the group; Courtney is one of about 30 students who give of their time, developing and applying entrepreneurial skills they likely weren’t aware they had before they joined Enactus.
In the interview, which will be on Lambton Shield this Wednesday as part of our “Spotlight” podcast, the excitement and commitment to making real change in the world were immediately apparent.
With the help of several sponsors of the Enactus program—and fueled in part by prize money that has accumulated through various levels of competition—the Lambton College group are sustaining a long-term and life-changing movement in Zambia with their “One Seed” program.
Just a few days ago, Enactus Lambton College won a national award for the program, which has resulted in a quadrupling of yields by farmers in the area.
In fact, they’ve been able to create a branded peanut butter—Hippy is the name—that promises to quite literally change the lives of local farmers.
Clearly, the motivation of the Lambton College students and faculty members involved in Enactus—including Jon Milos, who was in Zambia when I interviewed Matt and Courtney—is one of generosity.
Never once did they ask the “what’s in it for us?” question when pursuing the projects that Enactus Lambton College has tackled.
The result is magic.
Here’s another idea:
Let’s each of us begin to replicate that spirit of generosity throughout our community. If we embrace it, it will spread.