A Deeper Bowl of Cheerios: Reflections on Giving Tuesday

This Giving Tuesday, Joel Heath, FluidStance® founder, recounts a recent conversation he had with his sons over breakfast one morning. The takeaway? “Giving” isn’t something reserved for the superheroes of the world and doesn’t have to be epic. Rather, it’s the small and personal types of giving that we all can do to help make the world a better place.

I recently sat down with my two boys, ages 10 and 6, over our bowls of Cheerios before we all headed off to our daily duties of learning and “farming” in the entrepreneurial world. Right before I was about to get up to clean the dishes, my ten-year-old said, “Dad, I’ve been pondering why I was chosen to be a human? I mean, I could’ve easily been a dog or a tree, but I was selected to be a human.” After I picked my chin up from the depths of my bowl, I asked him why he thought he was chosen? After a couple of seconds, he said, “I guess I’m here to change the world by making someone’s life a little better.” This was one of those times when I realized we are going to be ok.

Now, I want to make sure I’m transparent in that I could easily share other stories where I’ve stayed up at night thinking I’ve screwed up this fatherhood thing. In fact, this idyllic moment quickly disappeared when someone farted, resulting in denials and belly-laughs, but the moment was worth noting as we approach Giving Tuesday.

While I have almost 50 years under my belt (and sometimes over my belt) and have studied with some cool people, it seems my kids continue to be my greatest teachers. Somehow, they seem to boil everything down to the most salient point.

In this day and age of “likes” within our personal and mass syndication ecospheres, giving is often judged through recognition as a CNN Hero, your name on a building, or the ability to document the gift in a color-corrected filter for our feeds. It’s heartening to frame giving from my son’s eyes—the idea that giving is personal and doable by all of us, not just by superheroes. My friend and writer, Adam Grant, points out in his book, Give and Take, that “Givers Can’t Burn Out If They Focus on How Big Their Impact Is.” As my son points out, a single impact in one person’s life is big enough to change the world.

In business, we are constantly focused on scale, but the reality is that when it comes to giving, the ten-year-old’s perspective is more meaningful. Giving—and all collective creations for that matter—is felt by an individual, not a “target-market.” If we were to judge our impact through my son’s lens that we’re “here to change the world by making someone’s life a little better,” I am confident that together we could easily create mass change. Our ten-year old selves know it can be as easy as a smile or saying hello.

On this Giving Tuesday—and every day—know that we can all create change in the world simply by making it more personal.

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