Is it better to give or to take? There's a socially-acceptable answer to that question and another truth.
Brett Kissel is one of the classiest men I've ever met. He's the kind a fella that writes hand-written thank-you notes and is considerate of how other people feel. I felt compelled to do what I could do to help protect his integrity in an industry famous for chewing it up. One of the first times I saw him perform was a few weeks after his grandparents were killed in a car crash. He barely got the song out between sobs. Give Together a listen. You won't get to the end with dry eyes either.
My mother's favorite song is Amazing Grace. She is the living embodiment of that song, having raised two young sons alone as a single mother. I don't even understand it now but she managed to isolate my brother and me from crushing financial pressure but none of it leaked down to us. She never broke or crumbled. We grew up feeling secure and confident. I asked Brett to sing it to her one Christmas. It was one of her all-time favorite moments.
Both Brett and my mother are servant leaders. As I careened through my teen years, my mother did her maternal duty, always putting our needs before hers, a habit she continues to this day with the people she loves. Interestingly she raised both of us to pursue our dreams, encouraging our artistic self-expression without compromise.
I think my mother would say that her ex-husband is a narcissist. I am not qualified to pass judgement on that but I think I came by my own self-centeredness somewhat innocently. I once heard two of my friends utter the word "narcissist" across the room at a party I was hosting and I walked right over and asked, "are you talking about me?" They were (mostly joking). At least I'm not also paranoid. One is a psychologist and the other a social worker. They should know. The term gets used a lot, especially by ex-spouses about their ex-spouses and by ex-employees about their ex-bosses. I suspect that it's over-used. There can't be that many of them out there. No one seems to complain about people who give and give until they are empty and have nothing left to give. At least they're nice.
Other-focus and self-focus are two vital approaches to relationship. Giving and taking – both are required for healthy relationships. Too much of either throws the system out of balance but one side of the equation gets a bad rap. Care-giving and self-care make up a whole person. That's grace in motion. Respect for others begins with self-respect and vice versa.
I admit that I can be a dick head but I am learning how to be more considerate and respectful of others. My mother has spent her life taking care of everyone else. She's now learning to give herself the same gift she's been giving us all these years.
This is my last post in the respect and esteem series. Get your copy of the book here now. I only have a few copies left. I'm launching the next series on curiosity and creativity with Bruce Croxon and John Eckert of Round13 Capital.