March 10: Harvard Business Review gives me advice on generosity. Will I listen? Will I learn?

Beat Generosity Burnout by Adam Grant and Reb Rebele in the Harvard Business Review (link below)
Selflessness at work leads to exhaustion -- and often hurts the very people you want to help. Here's how to share your time and expertise more effectively.

I'm reading and blogging about this article the next few days, because it really pushed my thinking about my own work and life commitment to generosity. I do feel like I've sorta gone over the edge in being super-volunteer and super-nonprofit-consultant (and super-mom but only half-way decent-wife/daughter/friend, and that's only if I've had caffeine). I've read all the Real Simple "How to Say No" articles, so I'm stepping up to Harvard Business Review and trying to learn something here.

First, let me also add: I think our country has had some crisis days lately, but I should note that I've been super-volunteer for a while now (which is why it has its own section in my resume). However, in the past few months (let's say since early November, for anyone keeping track), I have felt my urgency RISE and I've matched that with some increased action. But, politics aside, let me make it personal.

WHERE AM I on the generosity spectrum? (graphic below)

First off, who knew there was such a thing?! So I take a deep breath and read the descriptions.
Taker? Nope, swipe left.
Matcher? Hmmm... I think I have a few people with whom I dance this dance. But it's not my daily diet, so moving on.
Self-protective givers. I can see this is where I should be. (I know how the Cosmo Quiz works!) "THIS IS ME!" Oh no, let me read more carefully. This is NOT me. Shoot, shoot, shoot.
My eyes sneak over to the right and the glimmers of self-recognition brighten.
Yep -- this description is a place I visit pretty regularly.

There is SO MUCH NEED! How can I not have "high concern for others"? Plus, to whom much is given, much is expected, right? (I'm a white, straight, upper middle class woman with a husband, masters degree, a retirement account, two cars, and a home I own. AND a super great job. And two kids -- a girl and a boy. I am privileged.) I live in a community where there is need, and work in schools where there is tremendous need, and live 9 minutes from Cleveland, where there is need. Kids to be tutored, cookies to be baked, lasagnas to be delivered. Boards to sit on, events to be planned, coffees to attend, connections to be made. Documents to be drafted, meetings to attend, documents to be revised, and now it's time to tutor again, how did that happen?

Adam & Reb are telling me, f I'm running on fumes, I am less effective as a giver.
AM I running on fumes?
Tune in tomorrow for more self-reflection and some personal goal-setting.


  1. This certainly is thought provoking. I had no clue generosity had a spectrum of its' own. Anxious to read tomorrow.

  2. Very interesting. I'll have to look into this. Definitely a great way to self-reflect. In my new job- being the "new person" again I'd say I'm a more self-protective giver. In my previous job I was a selfless giver. The idea of conserving energy and not running on fumes really resonates with me. Good luck!

  3. Can we be somewhere between Self-Protective and Selfless? I recently read a book by the Christian author, Shauna Niequist, Present Over Perfect that addresses the need to leave behind frantic for a simpler, more soulful way of living. When we engage in a frantic lifestyle, we often ignore our own needs and exhaust ourselves. I wish I could remember who recommended this book. It was a fellow slicer. Looking forward to tomorrow's thoughts.


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