Last week I wrote about how my current seizure disorder, which came out of nowhere and will disappear eventually, could be a gift. This week I want to focus on how it is the gift that keeps on giving. Want to know how to become a more generous, caring, and giving person in the world, even if you are one already? I don’t recommend it, but just have a close call with death yourself. It’s hard to not reciprocate generosity with generosity, and the more the generosity the more generous we become. Intrigued? Read on.
My wife and I have made it a practice to give regularly to individuals and charities. Many religious traditions challenge people to give away 10% of what they make to others. The message of those traditions is clear: it is better to give than to receive. Giving has been, quite simply, an important and meaningful practice to many people and to many traditions throughout human history.
Lately my wife and I have been been focused on giving much of our time, attention, and money to the doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals and institutions that have helped to save my life. It’s hard to not be generous and grateful every time I am reminded of what could have been and how hard people have worked, including my own family, to keep me in the game.
But here I sit, reflecting once again on life and thinking about the meaning of what has happened and where this is all going. That really is the nature of LifeTrek Provisions. It is my attempt to provide a little soul food for the journey of life. They are grist for the mill as we think about our lives and what kind of people we want to be.
This was driven home to me in one more way while visiting with my daughter and son-in-law in Las Vegas, Nevada. On Friday I went to pay for breakfast with my wife and daughter and when I went to pay the bill, my Working Assets Visa card was declined. Now on the one hand that wouldn’t surprise me, since my brain disorder means that I have not only lost all track of time and often of hunger, I have also lost all track of money. On the other hand, I was quite surprised, since m wife’s sister, Maura, an accountant, has done a brilliant job of taking care of our financial affairs over these many months. I knew, therefore, that there must be a logical explanation.
In case you’re unfamiliar with it, the Working Assets Visa card is a credit card that donates 10 cents to charity every time you make a purchase, chosen from a list of charities that cardholders nominate and approve through a voting process. Since coming back to life, that’s the only credit card I use. One ends up being pretty grateful for life, and even more willing to share with others rather than with one’s self, after coming close to the brink of death itself.
Before I went down for the count, the card that I used to use most often for personal purposes was the Bank of America Power Rewards card. With this card, the benefits accrue to the cardholder rather than to a charity. It’s the same calculation: a few cents for every purchase. Only now it’s the cardholders that receive the cash or gifts to reward their use of the card. I always thought of that as a nice little perk.
At the restaurant, having had my Working Assets card declined, I took out the Power Rewards card only to have it be declined as well. This made no sense, because Maura does an outstanding job of making sure that our bills are paid on time. Finally I found a card that went through, paid the bill at the restaurant, and decided to figure out what was going on once I got back to the house.
I started by calling the number hat was listed on the back of the Working Assets Visa card for assistance. The representative was quite helpful and explained that this was simply a precaution, taken by the company since I was in a new location, and one quite subject to fraud, to make sure that the card had not been stolen and was perhaps being used without permission by someone else.
After answering her questions, I happened to mention that the same thing had happened with another Visa card. She asked me which one and I told her that it was the Bank of America Power Rewards card. She said, “Oh, that’s our card too. I can take care of that one for you as well.” At which point, she had written unwittingly this week’s Provision. I told her my story and the credit card representative seemed to enjoy hearing about all I had been through. We had a long and meaningful engagement.
After hanging up I thought it was quite ironic that the same company ran both rewards programs. One benefits worthy causes; the other benefits the card holders. It all comes down to who you want to benefit most: yourself or others? As I mentioned at the start of this Provision, my wife and I have practiced regular, generous giving since the start of our marriage. But before this experience the Power Rewards card was my card of choice. There was something pleasing about getting a little something for nothing, just by using this credit card, that got me into a selfish mood. Why not?
No more. After my close call with death and continued ordeal of recovery, I am so thankful to be alive that I can hardly use my Working Assets Visa card enough (other than the fact that the bills still have to be paid!). Using that card is a small way to make a difference in the world.
Whether or not you have heard about the Working Assets Visa card, I would encourage you to not only sign up for one but also to use it regularly. 10 cents may not sound like much, but since launching in 1985 the Working Assets Visa card, in conjunction with their affiliated CREDO mobile and long distance phone services, have donated over $72 million to worthy causes. Wow! What ten pennies and 1% of a phone bill can do • especially when we all join cards together. Let’s make a difference for life.
Coaching Inquiries: How would you describe your values when it comes to giving to others? What specific acts, big or little, can you describe that reflect your value system? How could you become generous and more engaged with changing the world, one small step at a time?
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Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Form or Email Bob.
The meaning for words on your last Provision, my first Provision, make me think and appreciate what I have, instead of just wanting more. I feel that I might want to go back to church again, as I grew up in church or with church. I am very sorry that I cannot express what I think or feel in English very well. I hope someday that it can get better. I am looking forward to the next issue. Thanks!
From way away in South Africa, I’m sorry to hear that you’re not doing well. Megan said after seeing the plant that Bob got new life. It is as God said: he looks after everything we see, the plants the animals and even us humans. Bob will be blessed because God is looking after him. He will blossom again because he is a child of God. Just give God time to heal him and he will be healed.
Dear Bob, I have been holding you in my heart all these many months. You were my first Wellcoaches’ teacher around 3 years back. I am with you.
I know I’m just a technician in a telephone store, but today is my my day off and I wanted to check on how the process was coming with the migration around your Outlook and phone files. I’m sorry that we’ve been missing each other on the telephone. By the time the crowds died down this week, it has always been too late in the evening to disturb you. I’ll be in on Monday, 11-8 (& I believe for the rest of the week, I’ll have to double check), so call if you have any questions. Also, were you able to get the photos from your phones onto your computers?
Your last Provision brought tears to my eyes once again, especially with Megan•s story. Thank you! I love you both!
President, LifeTrek Coaching International, www.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformation, www.SchoolTransformation.com
Past President, International Association of Coaching, www.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a Time, Online Retailers
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