I’m writing this from seat 9B on a flight from Milwaukee to Minneapolis, heading home with Bill after a 26-hour whirlwind mini-vacation. The trip was chock full of opportunities to “receive.” And let me tell you, it was quite a valuable lesson.
We’ve all heard the mantra: “It’s better to give than to receive.” Like most others, I always bought into that concept, too, until my ideas around it were challenged, causing me to think completely differently.
Yes, giving is wonderful! And it’s what makes the world go ‘round. However…
I just finished the book The Go-Giverby Bob Burg and John David Mann. If your life or business involves giving to others (which I hope it does!), then this book is a must-read. In the book, one of the Laws of Success is “The Law of Receptivity.” Its tagline: “The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving.”
When I first saw that, I thought, “Huh?” But now I get it and I couldn’t agree more.
The Law of Receptivity
The book goes on to explain that as “all of humanity is breathing in oxygen and breathing out carbon dioxide…organisms of the plant kingdom are doing the exact opposite—breathing in carbon dioxide and breathing out oxygen. Their giving is our receiving, and our giving is their receiving.”
“In fact,” the book explains, “Every giving can happen only because it is also a receiving.”
Most of the people in my life are tremendous givers. I’ll include myself here and say that it feels good to give and it comes naturally. I don’t really have to think about it; I must be hard-wired that way.
At the same time, I’ve always considered myself a pretty good receiver. When someone gives me a gift or a compliment, I take it all in and allow it into my heart. I feel the gratitude and appreciation and always let the other person know of the gift’s impact on me.
But now I realize that it goes even deeper than that.
* * * * *
Before our trip, I had contacted a friend from Milwaukee that Bill and I had gotten to know on occasion; someone we always thought would be fun to get to know better. In hopes that we might be able to hook up, I texted him after we landed at the airport to say we had arrived and we would be going to the State Fair later that afternoon to see a concert. His message back to me was: “I live three blocks from the Fair. Park in my driveway and I’ll drop you off at the front gate.”
Really? This guy was willing to drop whatever he was doing and go the extra mile to help make our visit to Milwaukee a hit? My first thought was, “Oh no, don’t worry about that; we’ll be okay.” But I took a breath, let in his offer, and told him we’d be delighted.
Receiving Exercise #1. Thank you, Dave.
When we got downtown and pulled up to the bargain mystery hotel we booked online, we were shocked. Instantly treated like royalty, this beautiful, fancy, and luxurious historic hotel had us hooked. After we checked in at the front desk, the bellman came over and said, “May I help you to your room?”
My knee-jerk reaction would have normally been: “No thanks, we’re good.” But I looked up at the elderly gentleman with white gloves, took a breath and said, “Sure, I’d love that, John” and handed him my overnight bag.
Receiving Exercise #2. Thank you, John.
Our white-haired bellman proudly showed us to our room and explained that this hotel is where all the Presidents stay when they’re in town. The woman at the desk had so graciously told the man, “Take them to my favorite room!” So we were whisked away to a beautiful corner room with big windows on two sides, allowing the sun to shine brightly onto the plush king-sized bed.
Bill and I were excited when we got to the Fair that afternoon. A friend in the band we had come to see said he’d have tickets waiting for us at will call. When I approached the ticket office, not only was I on the band guest list, but inside the envelope were two VIP backstage passes that granted us access to come and go as we please.
Really…for me? I was overjoyed!
While I was super excited to hang out backstage, I was mostly touched by the generosity and gesture of our friend going the extra mile to make our evening an over-the-top experience. Sincere friendship with a kindred spirit rocks. Our multitude of hugs and “I love you’s” after the show made my heart soar.
Receiving Exercise #3. Thank you, Kenny.
This gesture reminded me of why I’m always moved to tears the moment Bill and I step onto a cruise ship for a week’s vacation. That’s when you first make your entrance into the glorious multi-level atrium with beautiful ornate art and elegant detail; that vision serves as a reminder to me that I am going to be totally pampered and taken care of for the upcoming week. A time completely focused on receiving. It’s not unlike wearing a special badge that says “VIP”; I know I am going to be taken care of. And it feels good.
Just a few days prior, a friend told me her idea about “Pennies from Heaven” and how that’s her sign that a loved one who has passed is thinking of her. After our meeting, I said: “Watch, I bet I’ll find a penny soon that is meant just for me!”
And when Bill and I made our way to our concert seats, the first thing I noticed was a penny in the aisle just next to my assigned seat #1. This was my confirmation, my affirmation, my thumbs-up…that all is good, all is well. And my nod from above to keep having fun and enjoying life, embracing the things that make me come alive and bring me joy. I smiled as I picked up the penny and proudly put it in my pocket.
Receiving Exercise #4. Thank you.
The concert rocked, the clear and sultry summer night gave way to a purple sky and stars, and the crowd of several thousand was united in the celebration of life and of good times. Bill and I danced our hearts out and cheered with the concert-goers around us. Time stood still in those glorious moments as I breathed deeply and allowed myself to receive the goodness of all that surrounded me.
Receiving Exercise #5. Thank you, Mother Nature; Thank you, Steve Miller Band.
When the concert was over, my Milwaukee friend insisted we call him for pick up. Within minutes, he was at the exit gate ready for us and drove us back to our car, parked at his house. Our ‘thank-yous’ and ‘good-nights’ with him and his wife included tight bear hugs and a knowing that we would all be in each others’ lives again soon.
A pensive plane ride home
As the plane took off today for the journey home, we were reminded by the flight attendant that in the event of cabin pressure loss to “secure your own oxygen mask first before assisting others.”
This is the essence of receiving.
We have to—yes, we must—fill our own tanks first before being of any service to others.
This jaunt to Milwaukee taught me volumes about the importance of—and the joy of—“receiving.” Special thanks to my several teachers and angels along the way for orchestrating everything so perfectly.
My learning around receiving this week has reminded me that I am important, I matter, and I’ve got to keep shining my light brightly. And now because my tank is overflowing, I can so much more easily and effortlessly give to others. I’ve got an abundance of reserves!
In working with clients these last several years, a common theme that comes up—especially for women—is the struggle with receiving. And I see all kinds of guilt, discomfort, and uneasiness around it.
Listen up: Receiving is a good thing. Not only does it feel good, but it’s our one and only way to be able to give back to the world in all kinds of meaningful ways. In fact, when someone gives you a gift or does something nice for you…the best thing you can do is to simply receive it gracefully and graciously–which is actually like giving a gift right back to them!
Try it. You just might like it.
How will you open up and let your heart receive today? Love for you to share your thoughts below!