Earlier this month, I asked my middle schooler, who is home during much of the summer vacation, to make a contribution to the house or family every day. He looked at me confused, wondering what he would do to appease another one of my odd-mom requests.
I wanted him to think about this new responsibility not as a boring chore that he had to do, but as a selfless gift he could give to the family. I told him his contribution didn’t have any boundaries other than it needed to feel generous, utilize his unique gifts and be self-generated.
I promised him that if he took on this challenge, he would gain a sense of personal fulfillment and a growing trust in his own self worth. There was no financial reward promised. There was, however, a hope that the practice would build his spirit of generosity, humility and selflessness.
Every day I got home and found that he had made a wonderful contribution. One day he had concocted fancy chocolates to serve as dessert. On another day he had fixed a rattling doorknob. As the days went by, the contributions kept coming. What a gift! And the best gift of all was when he presented his contribution for the day with a proud, beaming smile.
Most of us could move closer to a mindset of contribution. Just think what a simple shift in energy it would be to think about doing the dishes as a gift to your family instead of as a chore. At work, what if we took a few moments to think about answering e-mails with a contributing spirit. How would that change our tone and how much more fulfillment would it bring? How would relationships be impacted? How would tasks be completed? How much more of ourselves could we bring to light if we just focused on being a contribution?
When the spirit with which you confront tasks is one of contribution, your mindset is different. This leads to different actions, which leads to different outcomes. And if you can keep that up, you build a reputation as a contributor. In her application to be a White House intern, my niece wisely said there are two types of people in this world: givers and takers. Which one will you be?