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Giving For Your Own Good

Recently, one of our Partner Principals introduced me to the FISH philosophy. It originated in the Seattle Fish Markets and is built on a simple approach to life that makes you more aware of how your choices impact others. It aims to boost morale and energise your team. There are four practices, that when applied daily, can help. They are choosing your attitude, being there, making their day and playing.

I’d have to admit that lately, as a Victorian, I’ve been quite deliberate at the start of every day by choosing my attitude. It’s helped me make even the challenging days of lockdown a winner, or at least a little better.

Whilst I was outside pottering in the garden last Sunday, I realised that this principle of choosing my attitude was serving me, but it doesn’t always flow onto others. In saying that, I’m sure that it helps my wife and kids as I’m not as grumpy and I’m a bit more enjoyable to be around. It got me thinking about building some momentum with this FISH philosophy stuff and focusing the upcoming week on making someone’s day. At that moment, I decided to focus on generosity and helping others…and it started to get me excited. It was a lift I needed.

When I reflected on the last few weeks, I think that I’ve subconsciously drawn some inspiration from a few recent acts of kindness from others around me. Last week, my wife dropped a few cold beverages at the doorstep of each of her team members just before their weekly meeting so they could enjoy the company of each other with a cold drink on Zoom. A Principal shared a cool story about how she bought a small gift voucher for all her staff to show her appreciation for their effort during lockdown. I’ve also been on the receiving end of an act of kindness. On the weekly Remote Learning pack pick-up, my kid’s school had included a couple of coffee vouchers for each parent. Small act, big impact. But generosity doesn’t always need to be a present or a voucher. It can be equally as powerful when you share some kind words. Adam (Voigt in case you don’t know who I’m talking about) is the master at this. Recently, he has been sending an inspiring email on a Monday morning, expressing his gratitude for what we have together at Real Schools, and generously offering ways to make our week more productive and positive. This small gesture is a game-changer for me on a Monday.

I decided it’s my turn. I’ve already picked up the phone, sent a few emails, flicked a few text messages, offered support, pre-ordered someone else a take-away meal, dropped the odd coffee and even a few cold beers. I’ve still got a few more random acts of kindness in the pipe. The good news is that I’m finding it a little addictive. The more I reach out and give to others, the more I want to do it again.

To give this blog a little bit of bite, I’ll share some of the research and psychology behind generosity. According to a Harvard School of Business study in 2006, the thought alone of giving stimulates the reward centre in the brain, which is involved in the feeling of euphoria. Basically, giving activates the same pleasure-seeking parts of the brain as eating and exercise. This is supported by other studies that found when a person showed generosity to someone else, the recipient was more likely to pay-it-forward and give themselves. In all these studies, it proves that generosity is the gift that keeps giving.

Give it a go. I’m sure you’ll get more than you expect.

Check out other articles Simon has written here.