Giver or Taker? Hero or Villain?

Gandhi was a giver.  So were Mother Theresa, Dr. King, and Thomas Edison.  They profoundly contributed to the world, leaving the place better than they found it.  Because they gave so much, they are revered and hold a special place in history.

Bernie Madoff is a different story.  Same is true for the Enron guys, Bin Laden, and Jeffrey Dahmer.  Not even their own mothers would suggest that these malicious souls contributed to the greater good or elevated civilization.

Things get a little dicier in the 57 shades of gray that nearly all of us possess.  Lance Armstrong motivated a nation by overcoming cancer and raising millions of dollars to help people “live strong.”  At the same time, his achievement has now been discredited due to his admitted doping.  Hated by some and still revered by others, he isn’t as easy to label as Darth Vader.

We all embody both good and bad attributes, and play the role of both giver and taker.  Throughout the years I’ve noticed that people tend to overestimate their own give-take ratio.  Those that leave a negative impact often believe they are the heroes in their own play.  They justify their hurtful actions and become desensitized to the fact that they are part of the problem instead of the solution.

The bureaucrat that inhibits progress probably believes she is helping to maintain rule and order.  The parasitic lawyer who greedily launches frivolous lawsuits likely justifies his actions through the notion of helping his client.  The petty thief rationalizes her crime because she herself has been victimized throughout her life.

It’s time to take an honest look in the mirror and examine our true give-take quotient.  When we cut through the cloudiness, we can all see our own true colors.

It’s time to ask yourself: Do you liberate or restrict?  Do you enact solutions or complain about problems?  Do you energize or drain?  Do you elevate others or set them back?  Do your actions help or harm? Do you bring out the best in people or the worst? Do you do the right thing or the easy thing?  Do you have the courage to stand up for your beliefs or do you bow to conventional wisdom?  Do you add more value than you extract?  Is the world better off as a result of your efforts or do others have to compensate for your mischief?

In our bumpy economy, we are facing many serious challenges in our community.  Now more than ever, we each need to amplify our own positive impact.  If each of us improves our give-take ratio by only 15%, our community becomes unstoppable.

We all know the truism – the more you give, the more you’ll get.  Let’s rally together to accelerate positive change in all shapes, sizes, and forms.  Let’s all take personal responsibility for giving more than we take, and in turn, we will reach new heights.   We all have the ability to be heroes.  It’s time to seize it!