Giving is inherently self-serving. Because when we give, we receive sometimes indescribable joy. Does this make giving selfish?
On a recent volume of The Psychology of Entrepreneurship, I sat down with the co-founder of B1G1, Paul Dunn. Paul is the co-founder, along with Masami Sato, of B1G1, which stands for Buy 1 Give 1. This amazing company is both a social enterprise and a non-profit organisation. Its mission is to create a world full of giving. Although it’s not the first of its kind, it is set up differently than others. B1G1 specifically helps small and medium-sized businesses achieve a significant social impact by embedding giving activities into everyday business operations. Every single business transaction, even ones as little as one cent, can bring joy and a better quality of life to someone in the world.
I spoke to Paul about why he considers giving self-serving. He said this, “Here's the interesting thing. It's self-serving. Now you go, ‘Well, hang on a second. How can serving others be self-serving?’ Because every single one of us is at our best when we're giving. It's as simple as that.”
Self-Serving vs. Selfish
So you may be thinking, “Well ok then. I guess if I give, I’m selfish.” No, that is not at all what I’m saying, and I don’t think it’s what Paul is saying either. The self-serving reward is becoming our best. When we become our best, we’re able to give the best to the world. We’re able to help others. We’re able to feel happiness in our own lives. We’re able to contribute to society in a meaningful way.
Selfishness is a whole other beast entirely. If you were to give so that you’d get the recognition or glory, the attention-seeking would itself be selfish. However, if selfish people all sought to get their kicks by giving, then maybe the world would be a better place. So I won’t knock it completely.
The point is, it is ok to be self-serving if the intent is to better someone else’s life. And the bonus is, it makes you better. “You don't give because then you get,” Paul explains. “You give because it becomes the best version of you. And guess what? The best version of you becomes much more attractive than a lesser version of you.”
The Birth Lottery
Giving, especially giving monetarily, can be hard to justify in your head sometimes. “I should be saving. I should be thinking of my family’s future. Wouldn’t use this money on my home or my family be more practical?” The thing is, you won the birth lottery. 98% of the world did not. What’s the birth lottery you ask? “My friend Paul Pollman talks about, and it's an amazing stat,” Paul explains. “He talks about there are only 2% of people in the world who won the birth lottery. What's the birth lottery? You were born in a hospital. You got food, you got water, you got medical attention. Only 2% of us. Which means there's 98% who didn't, and that's just a lottery.”
When you’re feeling the sting of handing over your hard-earned dollars, it helps to shift to that perspective. You won the birth lottery! There are so many out there that didn’t. And hey, if giving money still isn’t right for you, head on over to B1G1 to figure out how else you can make an impact.
Author: Kaili Bonnyman
Kaili is the Queen of Audio at Must Amplify.