The Season of Giving

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The holidays are here. It is the season of giving.

That’s wonderful… but what does that mean for the rest of the year? Yikes!

If you are an artist, you probably got into this because you feel you have something special and meaningful to contribute. As art and business intersect, it is easy to lose sight of this contribution and instead to start focusing on what you want to get, what people can give you, what you can take.

This is survival mode. With so much competition and so little opportunity, the artist gets pushed to the side and the sharky business person takes over. Not a very fulfilling way to live your life.

I recently heard Adam Grant speak about a study he conducted on gratitude and giving. One group of subjects kept a gratitude journal, recording three things they were grateful for each day. The other group of subjects kept a contribution journal, recording three things they contributed each day. Of course, the gratitude group felt good and, well, grateful. But in terms of productivity, in terms of making progress, they were static. Happy but static. The contribution group, however, saw an average of a 26% increase in their productivity. AND because they loved the feeling of fulfillment contributing gave them, they actively sought ways to contribute even more. Which led to more productivity, etc. A virtuous cycle.

My takeaway is this: it is important to practice gratitude and recognize the ways in which our lives are touched by others. AND it is equally, if not more, important to give something of ourselves every single day, to contribute in meaningful ways to the lives and experiences of others.

I challenge you to start keeping a contribution journal.

Hold yourself accountable for showing up to give rather than showing up to take.

So happy holidays. Let this be a lifelong season of giving.