The most joy-full moment of my day (so far) depended on staying up until 12:30 last night, a big, 17-year old, beat-up cooler that I can still rely on to keep food cold for lengthy periods of time, and outstretched arms attached to bodies with smiling faces, glad and eager for what was being offered.

The moment was the culmination of a process that started last August at the fundraising auction for my Leadership Charlotte cohort. Each year’s cohort hosts an “internal” auction, where every one of our 50+ participants put something up for auction, and the rest of us battle to win what we wanted from the stash. All the money raised goes toward scholarship funds for next year’s cohort.

I had offered up two healthy, homemade vegan dinners for a family of four, including an entree, salad, and dessert. Months and months have gone by, and finally, last night, I whirled around my kitchen like a hurricane for about five hours, and today, those meals were delivered to the two winners, Angela and Kenn.

“This is so amazing!” Angela exclaimed as I talked her and Kenn through what was included in the multiple containers I pulled out of the cooler shoved into the back of my garden-green Kia Soul. “How did you get involved in cooking like this? Wow!”

Kenn said, “Oh my gosh! All I expected was some kind of casserole. Donna (his wife) is going to be so happy!”

The point here is not about what I made. The point is, making this food and giving it away is so natural to me that I take it for granted. I walk around with this capability inside all the time. But I don’t usually act on it outside of an external prompt. And handing Angela and Kenn those bags brimming with food and flowers sent my spirit soaring more than almost anything I could have been doing in that moment. More importantly, I know they both walked away from my car bouncing on their toes, freed up from concern about dinner, feeling loved and taken care of.

And it left me wondering…what else do I take for granted that I could be offering generously, that would mean the world to someone else? And how does that show up for all of us as we go about our lives and work?

* * *

“Oh, Sam?” an executive client casually said today when Sam’s name came up. “He’s amazing. He embodies the level of service we want to give to our customers externally and our team internally.”

“Wow! Have you told him that?” I asked.

“Um, no, but I guess I could!” she said, realization dawning.

Over video conference, I could see her writing that down.

“I can definitely tell him that. It always feels great to acknowledge someone,” she said with a laugh that bubbled with the joy that comes from acknowledging and the slight embarrassment that she hadn’t thought of it herself.

She’d been walking around with that thought about Sam in her mind and observation, but it hadn’t occurred to her to take the step to give him an acknowledgement until an external prompt brought that appreciation and idea to the surface. There wasn’t an “acknowledgement just because” in her until that moment.

Thinking Sam is amazing is totally natural for this amazing, loving, brilliant client, and it’s something she walks around with that stays inside, just like my gift of having people feel cared for by making them home cooked meals.

In a world of concerns, worries, fears, upset about lack of fairness, and often a mood of “survival of the fittest” in the workplace, “giving generously” can seem like the last thing to do, if we think of it at all.

But think of the last time someone gave generously to you. Didn’t it make all the difference in the world?

What are you carrying around inside, not giving?

And what could you do about that?