No matter how little you have, you ALWAYS have something to give.


4 July 2022

Independence Day. What does it mean to be free? Doing what you want when you want to do it. In order to be truly free, you need to be strong physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually and financially. And how do we get strong? GIVE MORE!

The premise of The Give Team Program is to build strength by giving. My evidence is anecdotal, but I’ve long thought studies and science have to exist somewhere proving the strong individual and community benefits of giving; how giving impacts your community and your brain. Physically, it’s obvious. You get physically stronger by doing work even if you don’t think you have the energy to do the work. If you’re three miles into a four mile run, you need to keep going because there’s another mile left. And that makes you stronger. Emotionally and Mentally, it’s obvious. You get emotionally and mentally stronger by the confidence realized by helping others. It moves you outside yourself and focuses on those around you. And there’s a benefit to the Spirit, aligning your deeds helping others with your values.

But there’s something deeper that happens.

Today I started a book written in 2013. Give and Take by Adam Grant. It’s been sitting on my shelf for far too long, unread. Unread by me, anyway. Based on the blurbs, several smart people HAVE read it. I’m less than 100 pages in, but Mr. Grant has done a lot of the work around the benefits of giving. He breaks people down into three categories: (1) givers; (2) takers; and (3) matchers. He calls out the takers who fake it as givers, and at this early stage of the book has raised several points consistent with our Give Team Program. Some of the points I’ve noted so far:

  • Giving for the Sake of Giving. I’ve long said you can’t give to get. You must give to give. Mr. Grant reinforces this point, noting the benefit of giving only appears if it’s done without any expectation of anything in return.
  • Give Team Rule 02: Life is a team sport. DRAFT ACCORDINGLY! Find those who have accomplished something similar to what you want to achieve, and learn from them. Offer them something of value and get to know them. Mr. Grant notes the most powerful networks are based on reciprocity, and the power of giving with some detailed examples.
  • Give Team Rule Energy is Contagious. ACT ACCORDINGLY! From the beginning, we’ve reinforced the importance of controlling the energy you bring to any moment because it’s the one thing you control. Mr. Grant quotes a study by Wayne Baker, Rob Cross and Andrew Parker showing the goodwill created by givers is amplified through networks and organizations. Givers CREATE energy while takers suck energy away.

I look forward to picking out more tidbits from Mr. Grant in the next 200 pages, since GIVING is in our name.

How did we come up with that name? Our primary motto and Give Team Rule 01 is at the heart of the entire program. In 2009 I visited New Image Youth Center for the first time. I met Executive Director, Founder, and now good friend, Shanta Barton-Stubbs to explore how a non-profit where I served on the board of directors might help raise awareness for the work she was doing. She wanted to “Spruce Up the Center” and have donors fund the spring cleaning / painting effort. She was sharing the story of NIYC and mentioned she had the kids serve the community a meal once a month because she wanted them to know, “no matter how little you have, you ALWAYS have something to give.”
I fell in love with NIYC, all the kids, the mission, and everything Shanta and the staff was doing. I joined her as an adviser and then joined the board of directors where I continue to serve. I also started an obstacle course racing team. NIYC staff member and alumnus Akim ran BattleFrog with me in 2015, and we wondered how we could bring that experience to other kids at NIYC. We’d meet weekly for workouts to talk about goals and have breakfast afterward, and we’d see where it went.

Fast forward to 2016. As coach, I do everything on the agenda the team does. On this particular Saturday morning we were running around Lake Eola and I was trying to avoid a heart attack. That’s when it hit me. OUR NAME. We should be called THE GIVE TEAM after what Shanta shared with me a few years earlier.

I’m a firm believer that EVERYONE wants to give. They just might not know how. So how do we LEAD BY EXAMPLE and lift others up by giving back while also giving others an opportunity to give. But not just give money. Money helps and required for us to do what we do. But if we’re to truly build a stronger community, we need people to ENGAGE.

We’ve come a long way as The Give Team. And I’m excited to see what’s next. We’ve only scratched the surface for the young men and women who are part of The Give Team, and also for the reach The Give Team has around the country and around the world.

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