I’m going on a rampage here so get ready. I am SICK of hearing EVERYONE say, “you have to be willing to sacrifice if you want to get ahead.” I hear lots of people in our organizations say, “We are looking for and rewarding those officers who are making the biggest sacrifices.” Well, I say, “That explains a lot.” If you are looking for mediocrity and status quo, asking for “sacrifice” is the surest way to get it. If, however, you are looking for motivated individuals who are ready to take on the toughest challenges for the long haul, what you really want is “Gift.” Here’s why:
Reason 1: “Sacrifice” assumes limited resources!
Sacrifice means giving from a place of limited resources. Therefore, by definition, at some point there will be nothing left to give. Whether you are considering the productivity of a team inside an organization, the emotional resilience of a family unit, or the physical stamina of an individual, at some point the entity will give out. The sacrifice has drained the reserves. There is nothing left to sacrifice.
Gift, on the other hand, assumes giving from a place of abundance, of overflow, of extra. By definition, the overflow does not get depleted. Every person has their own GIFTS, that collection of knowledge, skills, abilities, talents, desires, experiences and quirks that are unique to them. When each person uses their GIFTS, the supply is constantly renewed. It does not end.
Reason 2: “Sacrifice” hurts!
Sacrificing is painful, stressful, uncomfortable, and difficult. Therefore, people must be “convinced” to sacrifice. The perceived reward must be sufficient to warrant the discomfort and pain associated with the sacrifice. Unfortunately, no outside party can quantify the pain level of a given sacrifice so the “reward” is never enough. In short order, the one making the sacrifice begins to feel unappreciated, unrecognized, and resentful. They will certainly not entertain the notion of sacrificing a second time. “Find some other sucker!”
Giving does not hurt. In fact, it feels AMAZING! It’s like a drug. When a person uses his natural GIFTS, he does not need any outside reward. The reward comes in the true satisfaction and fulfillment of authentically being in service to the world. I once had an interview where I was asked, “Have you ever made any sacrifices in your life?” I thought for a long moment before I answered the question. What I said was, “Yes, I’m sure I did. But it didn’t feel like it at the time.” I realize now that I had NOT sacrificed. I had GIVEN freely and generously. And was eager to do so again.
Because sacrifice depletes resources, when the well is empty, it requires time to refill and recharge. The amount of time and resources required to refill the well varies depending on the nature of the sacrifice and how many times it has been drained dry in the past.
Given the challenges and responsibilities facing our public institutions today, THERE IS NO TIME to recharge. We must continue moving forward as fast as we can just to keep up.
Because giving does not deplete resources, it does not require recharging. The act of giving is inherently self-sustaining, as the reward comes in the act itself. Some people will read this statement and think, “Well, if we operate this way, no one will ever do the hard jobs or take the tough assignments.” What those people don’t realize is that the “hard job” is NOT HARD for the one ideally suited to fill it. For every assignment there is someone for whom the assignment is IDEAL. ALWAYS. Here is the key: Only the one GIFTed for the role knows that it is IDEAL for them. No other outside party can make that determination.
A Final consideration:
We’ve been conditioned to believe that the value of a contribution is directly related to the level of pain (sacrifice) involved in making the contribution. Viewed from the above perspective, the opposite is true. For one week, try shifting the mindset to: the value of a contribution is directly related to the level of satisfaction (gift) it provides both the giver and receiver. Notice what happens.