84. The more benefits bestowed, the more received.
To give is to receive? How can this be? Let’s consider this and seek to understand what Publius Syrus means here.
When we give to others, it enriches our soul. Especially those less fortunate than us. Charity is the voluntary giving of help to others in need, perhaps food or clothing. Or perhaps donating time to organizations that help those less fortunate in your community.
From a purely selfish point of view, if we are to take as fact that the more good energy we put out into the universe, the more we receive back, this act of giving can only help us. But to be generous and benevolent is a good thing in that it produces more positivity in the world and helps others. You never know when you might need a helping hand yourself.
And maybe in the act of giving or helping, one can impart some modicum of wisdom to the helpee — in other words, “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
If we all were to be a little less selfish, and consider others a little bit more, I think the world would be a better place. And possibilities that we hadn’t thought possible before might be revealed to us.
Another situation that demonstrates this somewhat counterintuitive truth is when receiving praise for a job well done — here, we should defer all praise to our teammates, partners, or others in general. But when blame is due, even if it mostly was their “fault”, we should stand tall and take the blows, protecting others.
So we should defer all praise and look to reflect it on others, and we should absorb all blame and look to shield others from it.
In this way, we can become a leader and a role model for others. Someone who is trusted and can be counted upon to be loyal and have others’ backs. All while keeping our ego in check and remaining humble.
You can see great business leaders and athletes do this. Sure, everyone knows that person is the star. But by practicing humility and deference, they will go farther in life, and in the long run be more revered. We don’t like our stars to shine too bright.
So for today’s breezy lesson, what did we learn?
- To give is to receive — counterintuitive, but deep truth here
- Be considerate and show compassion toward others — do your part to improve your community and the world just a little bit
- Defer praise, but absorb blame — this is what timeless, transcendent leaders do
- Remain humble, even when at the pinnacle of success — history is littered with the corpses of those stars who have shown too brightly and appeared too perfect
Charity and deference will go along way towards keeping your ego in check and remaining on the narrow path to success.
Until next time,
If you are in need of an ego-check now and again (and in today’s self-absorbed culture of me, who isn’t?), try this classic collection of moral sayings written by a Roman slave. It’s good for your soul.