|March 10, 2010||Posted by Teresa Ivory under Articles|
The buzz I’ve been hearing lately is all about being a go-giver. My thoughts naturally turn to my go-giver dad who taught me invaluable lessons about giving by the way he lived.
The neighborhood we moved into when I was about 10 was brand new. Many of the neighbors were buying for the same reason my parents did – the price was right, and the houses had a full, above-ground basement which could be finished off in the future, doubling the square footage and making room for growing families.
Over the years, neighbor helped neighbor with the framing, drywall, flooring, plumbing – and as I was in and out playing with the other kids, I heard snippets of conversation from the adults. I came to realize that many of the neighbors were relying on my dad’s knowledge to get the work done. Always asking his advice and always receiving his expert help. Especially when it came to the wiring. Local code required that only a licensed electrician could wire a house. Smart code considering how dangerous – shock, fire hazard, etc. – faulty wiring can be. My dad was an electrician by trade, so all the neighbors saved a ton of money they would have had to spend hiring someone to do the electrical work.
Now I have to admit that I noticed that my dad gave more than he received. I remember one neighbor helping my dad with those huge sheets of drywall – someone had to hold it in place to keep it aligned while the nails were driven in – but for the most part, Dad did our house alone. He worked on the house a little bit in the evenings and on the weekends when he wasn’t working overtime or working on someone else’s house. Gradually it all came together – my brother had a bedroom downstairs, a nice den held the pool table and the piano I practiced on for so many years. Dad put in an extra bathroom, built shelves and cabinets for mom’s laundry room, and, of course, he had a wonderful workshop.
Dad’s life lessons were given by example more than by what he said, but he did tell me that one of the neighbors tried to pay him for the new kitchen cabinets he built and installed for her. He refused and told her that she might not be able to repay him, but that she could go and do something for someone else. He had a way of looking at me when he wanted me to learn a lesson – I nodded my head and he nodded in return, satisfied I understood the significance of what he was saying. Help people just because you can. Give without expecting a reward.
But I saw the reward my dad received. A few years into all the home improvement, Dad decided to build a screened, back porch running the full length of the house. The day the concrete truck pulled up to pour the foundation, people came streaming from all over the neighborhood to help – three times as many as could possibly get in there to smooth concrete. I saw how much they wanted to return all the favors my dad had always done for them, and this was one time he had asked for help with something he couldn’t do alone. I also saw my dad’s reaction – he knew. He knew what they were giving – more than just smoothing concrete – and, as he graciously thanked them for coming, I saw them leave with a lighter, happier heart.
I was trying not to let anyone see my tears as I learned this even greater lesson from my dad that touched my heart. How did he do that? How did he make everyone feel so wonderful about themselves when most of them couldn’t even get at the concrete to help because of the crowd? My teenage mind knew that the half-hour of help they gave that day did not “pay back” my dad. But my dad never wanted to be paid back, did he? He wanted good neighbors raising good children to hang out with his own children. He wanted friends who would be there when he needed them. He got what he wanted.
Read The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Man. While you’re reading, taking in its lessons and working on your plans to improve your success, think about my dad. Think about building a good business ‘neighborhood’ and creating relationships that build good business neighbors. Put your energy into giving, don’t worry about getting paid back – it will come back to you in all the ways that really count.