Discover more from Weekend Wisdom - Dan Isaacman
The Meaning of Life
How Service Creates an Abundance of Wealth
For millennia, humans have pondered our existence. "Why are we here"?
What is the purpose of our lives on this planet, seamlessly floating in a vast vacuum of space that is almost impossible to comprehend? Existence In this vast universe, where our sun will one day fizzle out, and that will be the end.
Maybe we are here to fulfil a purpose, or perhaps we are here to be fulfilled.
A simple question, reframed my thinking and provoked this train of thought "How can I help?".
Altruism and Selflessness
The will to help your fellow human is the highest order of our nature as a society.
It appears apparent when you look to the people in the world who have generated most of the wealth. People like Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos have found a way to benefit millions of people worldwide.
These entrepreneurs have scaled their ability to serve and develop solutions to complex problems that satisfy their customers' needs.
Bill revolutionised the way we work, and Jeff changed the retail industry in the western world.
However, we do not have to solve the world's most significant problems to become a person of service. Serving others can start with one individual, a phone call, a conversation, a charitable act, or any form of contribution.
Naturally, it seems that we are not born service-inclined, entirely relying on our parents for our every need.
It makes sense that we are selfish because it is easiest to see life from your singular worldview. We can sometimes selfishly believe that the world revolves around us, because from a practical perspective that is our subjective reality.
You cannot receive what you cannot give.
The trick to acting more selfless is to realise the personal benefits that come from serving others.
Practising contribution and generosity will eventually lead to your ability to give without expecting anything in return—the ultimate purpose of existence.
"If you own something you can't give away, then you don't own it, it owns you." - Albert Schweitzer.
Sharing When you Have Nothing
Developing a generosity mindset is the first step towards creating abundance.
Starting small is the key, and let your generosity grow with you.
It’s much easier to get into a habit of contributing 10% of your net wealth when you are only earning $100, than the same 10% when earning a million.
How do you think most big businesses started?
They started as small businesses that created value.
The people who created the companies began with a skill or something to offer, and then they used their skills to solve people problems.
Slowly but surely, they perfected honed their contributive capability and worked up to where they are today.
The success they had in business is directly proportional to the size and urgency of the issues they were able to solve, and then they scaled their ability to provide value and serve.
The inspiration to give more by becoming more, and creating more is a motivational driver when you may want to give up.
Knowing that you are helping others might be the push you need to carry on.
The Giving and Receiving Mentality
Most people find it hard to accept gifts and random acts of kindness. When you are not expecting people to be generous and suddenly surprise you with a kind gesture, it is easy to shy away.
We are trained at a young age that it is not polite to take things from others, and we can easily confuse receiving with taking/stealing.
The awkwardness of a failed generous interaction becomes a problem when receiving. By flatly refusing to accept the kindness of another human, you are robbing them. You are ruining the givers' experience by blocking them from doing a good deed.
Giving and Receiving are Symbiotic. You Could Not Have One Without the Other.
When you choose to give, you are also simultaneously receiving.
The mental benefit of generosity on the giver far outweighs the material gift that is received.
If you give a homeless person $100 or a week's worth of food, you are technically worse off, but you get the better end of the deal in reality.
The feeling of joy and satisfaction you get from helping the person or seeing the difference you made to their day can completely shift your mindset to that of abundance.
If you can help others, that must mean that you are doing well.
If the homeless person refused your kindness, then you would feel terrible. There would be an awkward tension, and you would miss the opportunity to help someone.
You lose all the interaction's joy.
Consider the fact that when you flatly deny an act of kindness, you rob someone of the opportunity to give.
Keep Calm and Carry On
As a deep thinker, I know you may get stuck in your mind.
We have all experienced being in an endless loop of thoughts that quickly spirals and takes over our mind.
Helping someone else brings you out of this secluded world into a broader perspective, where you form part of a collective.
Getting busy by an act of service is a sure way to rid you of all your problems and concerns.
You might feel like you are having a bad day until you start helping someone who has a real problem.
When our minds become occupied by helpful thought, and our bodies move in the act of physical service, we can't dwell on our petty personal issues. We get stuck into helping others, and in turn, we are saved from our relentless mind games.
What Should I Give?
What is the most valuable asset we have?
It is precious, finite, and we will never be able to get it back.
So how do you give your time?
There are many communities and projects that you can get involved with if you want to start your generosity journey but remember you can start small by helping one person at a time.
You can become a role model or mentor, or you can reach out to a friend and see how you can support them.
I started a mentoring program a few months ago. I got paired with a teenager with similar interests, and we both benefit significantly from this relationship.
We can all find someone who needs support and become that person to help formally or informally.
"Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country," - J.F Kennedy.
How Do I Give?
One of the simplest and also most challenging ways to serve another person is to listen.
All you have to do is nod your head and occasionally ask probing questions based on what the person is saying, in an attempt to delve deeper into the conversation.
Effective listening is a skill because our brains often prefer to talk than to listen.
Our mind is racing at a million miles per hour with thoughts of what we will say next, or what advice we can offer.
The problem is that people don't want your opinion.
They have already formed their ideas, and the reason they are talking is to solidify those ideas by talking them through.
Unless specifically asked for, offering your opinion is generally useless.
Not because your opinion is worthless, but because the person speaking is spending 80 of their listening capacity on themselves.
They may not have ever said their nagging thoughts out loud, and they are testing how they sound when released into the airwaves.
People generally know the right advice they need, and they will often formulate these ideas while they hear themselves talking aloud.
If you want to become a generous listener, it is paramount to control your thoughts and opinions and shift your focus to the other person.
How Much Can I Give?
Typical thinking is "What can I get out of this?" or "What is the least I can do?" instead of "How much can I tolerate to give?". This single paradigm shift in your thinking can completely change your capacity to create and generate.
Start to contribute from where you are.
It was one of my first days working my first ever job, scooping ice-cream, and even though I had done other forms of work, I was nervous.
My Dad and I started to talk about what I could do to excel at my work.
He gave me some of the most sage advice I would ever receive.
If you want to do well in your career, or any business activity, ask "How can I help?".
He stressed the importance of going above and beyond and being proactive. He added- "Look for ways you can help and just do it. Don't wait for someone to tell you what to do".
Imagine a world where we all had a service mindset. Even if we all were slightly more altruistic, we could see a radical shift.
"You cannot receive what you don't give. Outflow determines inflow. Whatever you think the world is withholding from you, you already have, but unless you allow it to flow out, you won't even know that you have it. This includes abundance." -Eckhart Tolle.