When I ask leaders to reflect on what enhances their energy and inspires joy, they are often surprised to notice that supporting others and being generous is not just a selfless act but also a source of personal enrichment. We tend to think that most focus on self-interest. Of course, we need a balance. However, being gracious and of service can indeed be a source of joy and energy, and it’s a win-win situation.

Scientific research consistently confirms that humans have an innate inclination toward generosity. For instance, the Cleveland Clinic’s health blog highlights that acts of kindness and giving stimulate the release of ‘feel-good’ chemicals in our brains, such as dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin. This biological reaction to generosity is not confined to adults; studies have shown that young children exhibit natural empathy and a willingness to share. However, as they grow, societal influences often redirect their attention towards self-interest.

Studies show positive consequences for those who freely give time, resources, and goods to others: People who volunteer their energy report better health, well-being, and greater longevity.

From my interactions with leaders in various capacities, I’ve observed a recurring theme–those who engage in mentoring and career development support not only report a heightened sense of satisfaction and personal growth but also foster stronger professional relationships. One leader I’ve had the privilege of coaching shared that his most fulfilling moments are the one-on-one meetings where he can focus on supporting others. His mentees, in turn, express feelings of being valued and experiencing personal growth. These anecdotes underscore the profound impact of generosity in professional relationships, highlighting its significance and value.

It seems counter-intuitive when we are too busy to take time out to be generous to others. When I share what I have learned about being an organization development consultant, executive coach, or author, I learn as I reflect and give to others. I am grateful to be of service and appreciate my journey. We are prosocial beings, and we are wired to be cooperative and support others. Being generous is an often overlooked avenue for experiencing more joy. Of course, we need some balance and should be kind to ourselves.

Reflecting on your own journey, how has your generosity with your time, resources, and advice impacted your energy and joy? Have you noticed a positive shift in these aspects of your life as a result of your generosity?

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