Discovering The Incredible Power Of Generosity

Like most of us, I send and receive a large amount of e-mails each day.  It is such a crucial part of my work.  I love e-mail because it allows me to accomplish a great deal of work in a short and efficient way.  It is just a great format for me and works well to help me be more productive and establish strong support for my clients and others.

Also like most people, I frequently forget to add the attachment to my e-mail.  Just the other day, I sent an e-mail response to a trusted colleague and forgot to add the attachment.  I had just edited the document for her and quickly dashed out the e-mail to get it to her, but forgot to click the little paperclip and get it on its way.

She responded so very kindly with a common phrase, “I think you may have forgotten the attachment” or “I cannot see the attachment.”  Oops! I quickly replied and told her I was sorry for being in a rush to get it off to her and forgetting to attach it.  And, you guessed it! I forgot it again!  How could I keep doing this! She responded with “Call me crazy, but I still do not see the attachment!”  I gave myself a flat forehead and responded, “I will resist the temptation to call you crazy.”  Then, this time, I double and triple checked to make sure I sent the attachment.

This was such a fun interchange over my obvious forgetfulness and being hurried.  I have had this exchange more times than I am willing to admit.  Yet, one thing never ceases to amaze me.  I cannot ever recall a time where the respondent was unkind to me.  I have been reminded maybe hundreds of times to resend with the attachment, and I cannot recall one time where someone was rude to me!

I wish everyone was as kind to me as when they remind me I forgot the attachment on my e-mail!

What keeps us from being kind to each other?  In so many life situations we see people being critical and unkind to each other.  Too often we assume the worst about people. Then, we are short-tempered, irritated, frustrated, and even angry.  It seems so many of us make a great fuss over things of no real consequence–like a forgotten e-mail attachment.

What if we practiced generosity?  What if we assumed that people are doing the best that they can with what they have at the time?  What if we gave them the benefit of the doubt?

I have loved digging into the work of Brene Brown.  One of my favorite things I have learned from her work on Rising Strong and Daring Greatly is the concept of what she calls “Living Big.”  She challenges us all to live BIG!  BIG stands for “Boundaries, Integrity, and Generosity!”  I just love this.

When we have boundaries, we make sure we are taking care of ourselves, respecting the relationship, and honoring the trust we have between us.  Boundaries say that I know where I begin and end and where you begin and end.  We operate within the level we have earned together in our history of interactions.  Boundaries help ensure respect, honor, and trust.

Integrity is being true to what you said you would do.  It is being real.  It is being authentic.  Integrity is operating the same in private as you do in public.  Integrity is when you are the same with your subordinates as you are with your superiors.  Integrity is a powerful key to happiness and peace.

And, finally, Generosity.  Generosity is assuming the best in all people.  It is striving to believe that most people are doing the best that they can at that time with what they have.  It is giving people the benefit of the doubt (and we hope they will do the same for us).  Generosity is so powerful.  Life’s many relationships become so much easier when we put a generous tag on the events that happen around us.  Assume the best.  Give people grace!  It just makes things so much smoother!

I saw it with my friend and my attachment amnesia and appreciated her kindness and humor in relating with me.  I value the many who have extended me the same generous interpretation of my error.  I can chuckle at myself and my foibles and move on!  Such is the power of living big and being generous.

So, let’s be as kind to others as we are when they forget the attachment on that next e-mail!  It is just a better way to live!


Jim R. Jacobs
Jim R. Jacobs
Jim R Jacobs is a brave creator who strives to do mighty things! Jim is a Certified Daring Way Facilitator helping others to live more brave and authentic lives! He is the author of Driving Lessons For Life: Thoughts on Navigating Your Road to Personal Growth. Jim speaks professionally, and coaches others to success and living with integrity. He is a counselor, educator, innovator, father, and friend. Please check out Jim R. Jacobs and Driving Lessons For Life and find Jim on social media! Let's connect and dare mighty things!

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  1. If each of us would do one small thing each day to lift someone up or a random act of kindness, it would be like rain on a still water lake. It would send ripples across life. Great post Jim. A message the world really needs to hear

  2. Thanks sharing your experiences, Jim :)! I often connect the apparent unkindness to the level of emotional intelligence. There are many people who are factual and act unemotionally. They simply cannot understand that a recipient of the email response might feel emotional distress about it.

    This helps me to consider the context of what may seem as a very blunt message. Training in EI self-awareness helps to develop communication skills, although it can take time.

    • Thank you Dr Lippitt! You are so correct! You have stated one of the main reasons it is so powerful!!

    • Thank you for writing this so we are all reminded of the important role of kindness in maintaining harmony and building collaboration.

    • My pleasure! We sometimes live in a dog-eat-dog world where we are quick to find fault, level blame, and point fingers. It is refreshing to meet a little kindness and generosity on our way!

  3. It’s the little courtesies that we don’t have to give that really make things worthwhile. When someone does a great job and did things they didn’t have to do, I tell them “great job” and I tell them why.

    I remember when I got blasted for not attaching my email or not sending my email when I should have. In the rare case it was because of an IP block because there was a major spammer in my “region” of the country. But more likely the person’s email service removed my attachment or the email sync to their phone didn’t work.

    I always show courtesy. Not only is it the right thing to to, it doesn’t cost much and it always yields a high return.

    • Thank you for sharing those experiences! Generosity and kindness just do good everywhere! Your example is so important and needed!