Focus on Giving

Under the direction of CEO Howard Schulz, Starbucks became a company known for their philanthropy.  When Schulz resigned as CEO in 2000 the company was thriving.  However, during the intervening years the company stalled and many stores had to close.  When Howard Schulz returned as CEO the first thing he did was to take 10,000 store managers on a character and values boot camp to New Orleans.  This was post Hurricane Katrina.  During that time Starbucks’ employees gave more than 54,000 hours of their time in volunteer work and invested more than one million dollars in repair projects.  Howard Schulz attributes this time as being the company’s turning point because they reinvested in their people and in the company’s core values of giving back.

One of the keys to living a rich, meaningful life is to understand when you need to focus your attention inwards and when to focus on giving back. When you need ideas, inspiration, or need to make a choice this is the ideal time to go within and listen to your heart and soul.  If you listen to everyone else’s opinions at this time you will often end up confused.  Although I am a big advocate of trusting your heart and living a life that suits your essential nature, the paradox is that if you were to live your life solely based on what’s in it for you—you would end up unhappy.

Happiness results from living a balanced life where you trust yourself enough to make choices that suit your essential nature, then live in such a way that your life is focused on caring for, and giving to others.  Through sharing and giving we experience real joy and discover our purpose.

This principle doesn’t just apply to individuals, it applies to business as well.  Businesses that are just interested in the bottom line, the profits they can make, often don’t last over the longer term.

The time has come to shift our focus from greed and the ‘what’s in it for me?’ approach that has been prevalent for some decades to ask the question, ‘What can I give?’  This never means that you give up your dreams, in fact when you focus on giving in a balanced way, it becomes so much easier for you to achieve your dreams.