I was challenged recently by an article in the New Yorker about a couple that sold their home and donated half the proceeds to a village in Ghana.
Forget all the arguments you might have about whether the money might be diverted to some corrupt official and just ask yourself: Could I do the same? Could I give up a significant share of my wealth, of my abundance, to help someone in need that will have no future business or personal relation with me?
Whatever your response to this moral question, let’s not confuse it with the simple good business practice of giving from your abundance. Good deeds, pay-forwards, favors, shouts – giving from our abundance - those are things we should all just be doing all the time, not because they make us more holy, but because they are just core good business skills.
Spend less time worrying about competitors, stock portfolios and monthly income statements, and instead focus on what we have in abundance and how to get that to people who have it in scarcity.
Google makes tons of money giving away information.
Barnes and Noble and their publishing partners let you pick over the great classics as you sip on lattes. TempWorks gives away a free version of its staffing software to small businesses. The Recruiting Animal and HrMargo dispense abundant advice to job seekers about LinkedIn, resumes and other career issues.
Those are not examples of the widow’s mite. They’re just smart business implementations of advice given down by everyone from Abraham to Jesus to Dale Carnegie to Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.
My advice: spend some time pondering the big moral question posed by the couple that gave away their home. Spend more time on just doing the smart business practice of giving of your abundance to people that have it in scarcity.