Today I was asked "when is it okay to give love, when all you feel is being depleted by other people?" This is a great question, and directly tied to a lot of the premise of my bestselling business leadership book, LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World (Jossey-Bass).
The answer is, always. Love Leadership is not about so much how you 'act,' and even less about how someone 'responds' to your acts of goodness. Frankly, we tend to save our worst behavior for those we care the most about. Most people don't know how to love, so no matter how much you give, their response won't filfull you. Love Leadership is more so about your response to what happens in life. Your response is about all that you control in this life, but actually this is saying almost everything.
"Life is 10% what life does to you, and 90% how you choose to respond to it. What's your response going to be..."
This may sound radical, but if you can redefine success in your life as 'going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiam,' well, then nothing can stop you. My point is, life is not about you giving and the world saying 'thank you.' Most of the world simply will not do this, and as a result, you will be disappointed. Maybe even bitter in time, and no one likes hanging around a small and bitter person. But 'getting appreciation' is also the wrong reason to even do something nice or kind for someone else.
Learn to do the nice or kind thing, because it is simply who you are. Because you actually enjoy being nice and kind, and in time you will forget altogether what someone's 'response' was. In time, someone else's response to you will become almost irrelevant. At this moment, you are free.
But as long as you are held hostage to someone else's response to you, or worse, their acceptance or appreciation of you, then you are a slave to your own emotions and limitations, and you will never be happy. You will never experience a truly joyful moment, because the world was not designed to glorify you. You have got to do that for yourself.
"Not one ounce of my self-esteem is dependant upon your acceptance of me..." Quincy Jones.
News flash: This world was not designed for you to receive. This world was designed for you to give.
Learn to be a professional giver in life, and you will magically find that you have all that you ever needed or wanted, in return. Most of all, because the gift of and to true givers comes from deep within.
Learn to make 'becoming reasonably comfortable in your own skin' your life's mission, and nothing as petty or small as "what do I get out of this," or even questions like "when will you start showing appreciation back," will mean that much to you ever again.
When you become a real and authentic giver, you set yourself free from your own inner insecurities, which is in turn tied to your need for external affirmation and want.
After you do this, you become a magnet for all good things in this world, and as a result you will have all the real and authentic love that you will ever want or need in this life.
Life is funny. In the end, it is the authentic giver who gets.
Onward and with HOPE,
John Hope Bryant is a thought leader, founder, chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE and Bryant Group Companies, Inc. Magazine/CEO READ bestselling business author of LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World (Jossey-Bass), the only African-American bestselling business author in America, and is chairman of the Subcommittee for the Under-Served and Community Empowerment for the U.S. President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability, for President Barack Obama. Mr. Bryant is the co-founder of the Gallup-HOPE Index, the only national research poll on youth financial dignity and youth economic energy in the U.S. He is also a co-founder of Global Dignity with HRH Crown Prince Haakon of Norway and Professor Pekka Himanen of Finland. Global Dignity is affiliated with the Forum of Young Global Leaders and the World Economic Forum. Mr. Bryant serves on the board of directors of Ares Commercial Real Estate Corporation, an NYSE Euronext publicly traded company, and a division of $54 billion Ares Capital.