The Giving Paradox

By Thomas Jakobs October 18, 2010

The Giving Paradox

By: Thomas Jakobs

I had the opportunity to meet an extraordinary family last week. Wesley Wilson is a young man in his mid-twenties who broke his neck in a freak diving accident when he was 17. He and his mom live together in a modest, well-kept home in southern Arkansas. Wesley is one of our newest Be Extraordinary clients.

A few of us from Be-X went to Wesley’s home with the expectation that we would help him. I listened to his story as Shawn (InvoTek’s Creative Director) videoed him. I asked questions and talked about possible solutions to some of the challenges he faces. Those are the facts – and just the facts. But they don’t really get to the truth.

Something happens inside of me when I meet wonderful people like Wesley and his mom. My intention is to give to them. I want to give them hope. I want them to have confidence that we’ll do our best for them. I want them to know that we are sincerely interested in them and look forward to a long relationship. But I leave having received much more than I brought with me. There are some wonderful people in this world. The stories shared by the Wilson family of how Wesley’s friends helped him, and how the community pulled together for him, are nothing short of miracles. Below is one small example.

Wesley's community had an auction to raise money for his medical expenses. A woman in the community wanted to help, but didn’t have much of value other than a pair of diamond earrings. She decided to give them to the auction. When the auctioneer offered the earrings, the community bid aggressively for them. The winner wrote a check for the winning bid – and then returned the earrings to the auctioneer and told him to offer them again. A second person bought the earrings and also gave them back to the auctioneer. So did the third person. Finally, the fourth person who bought them gave them back to the woman who so generously offered them for Wesley’s benefit.

Something powerful and promising happens to us when we give to others. It brings out the very best in us. I went to Wesley’s home hoping to give to him and I received much more. This isn’t unusual. It happens a lot when I try to give. Have you had this experience as well?

While we started the Be Extraordinary program as a way to help others, I’m learning that it has a lot more to do with helping me become extraordinary than the people who get our services.