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Whatever you want in life, give it first.

So you’ve got the drive. You’ve got the willingness to do a project on your own. You get the concept that often times in life you can set aside the big scary narrative about how outside of your reach, manual, emotional, physical health, and altruistic tasks are. How helpless you are at influencing your own outcomes. You’re ready for action, there’s just one problem. You don’t quite have the skills to make the rubber meet the road so to speak. You don’t know how to do “Skilled tasks”. As is the case with all of us, you don’t yet know how to do absolutely everything. There’s always more to learn. Perhaps you’re not as experienced in some of the emotional competencies either, such as being an intentional friend. That’s not a jab. No one starts of being the pillar their other friends can lean on. We all figure things like this out as we continue to grow. Maybe you’re the one who wishes you had more of those  “on purpose” type of relationships. The ones you intentionally develop with exactly the people you want in your life. It’s one of those ‘Which came first the chicken or the egg’ situations and the solution can be a win/win-You can grow and enhance your capacities while enhancing someone else’s experiences as well.

I don’t mean this in some sort of Nigerian wire scam way, where you send all of your money to someone else believing that it will come back to you ten-fold, but it’s exactly this type of giving concept that can both help someone else and fill in many of the blanks for you in whatever your endeavor is. Again, be smart about how you apply this. Don’t go to the most selfish person you know, help them with a bunch of things, and then be offended when the keep taking and asking for more. These people are not your target audience. Here’s a brief example from one of my experiences:

I had just bought my fixer upper and it desperately needed a new roof. I’m not just being slightly dramatic. The roof was leaking in multiple spots, had rotten sections that you could barely stand on, and was sagging more than it should. The previous owner tried to remedy this by shoving plastic bags into it wherever it leaked, which was all over the place. I didn’t have 3-5k to pay someone to fix this. None the less it had to get done. I had worked on a roof project as a teenager but that was at least 20 years ago. I had no idea how to do it today. What I needed was a tune up, a refresher course, but where was I going to find a roofing mentor, or possibly a wizard on such short notice? Where indeed.

I read several articles online that gave me the basics and steered me clear of a few beginner mistakes while giving me the basic principles involved. Then I found what I was looking for; my local branch of Habitat for Humanity was building a house for a good family and needed volunteers.

I signed up and inquired if they would be redoing the roof. Sure enough they were and gave me the dates that they’d need volunteers for that project. It was a great chance to test run the whole process, see how they managed, trash disposal, air hoses, nailers, materials layout, installation, and really just see what I would be up against.

In a weekend, I got to meet great people, partake in a good cause, have a new experience, and learn how a roof install works. By the time I tried it on my own roof, I had all the kinks worked out and was able to have my new roof installed in less than 3 weekends (I have a full time job) with a little help from some family and friends.

The whole experience left me with a great template for acquiring new skills and helping other people while also helping myself. I’ve since been back for additional projects with other organizations ranging from, demolition, to harvesting oranges at a local orchard.

This isn’t an attempt to virtue signal with my “humble brag”. No one likes a virtue signaler because it’s more about them than what they’re telling you; I said I was doing it for my own self-interests and I was, but that doesn’t mean it can’t also be a win/win situation that simultaneously benefits someone else at the same time. Come to think about it, this seems like a good way to approach a lot of ventures. (Link to article on how to make a good business deal)

Simultaneously during this same time period I met a new friend who was knowingly or unknowingly executing this same principle on me. He’d show up to see if I needed any help for no reason. I barely even knew this guy but he lived a few houses down from me and would just pop by to lend his services. From that experience, I operate from a place of extreme gratitude for this individual whenever he needs anything, which to hear him tell it, is never. So I looks for places I can contribute. I can’t help but give back any chance I see, because of his taking action to make a new friend, help someone in need, or whatever his motivations were at the time. That was many years ago and I still don’t feel like we’re even after many projects together since then.

In short it’s been a synergy that all started with giving, and giving takes action. Talking won’t do it. So take action today no matter what the category is. Call a friend you’d like to see more of. Help someone with a project in a department you’d like to learn more about.

Maybe you’ve already got a skill, and maybe you can share this skill at some point with someone who needs it, someone capable of appreciating it. Who knows, they may have a skill as well that they then share with you until the whole thing reverberates into a feedback loop enriching both of your lives for years to come.

Friendships have been made on less. And if they don’t, at the very least you can get to be part of the brotherhood of men helping men/women helping women, that is so crucial to this human experience we get to live. Something not attainable without taking meaningful action or well intentioned talking about it. .

 

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2 comments

  1. That was really cool of you to help out Habitat for Humanity and re-learn enough for you to finish your roof.

    I hired a guy to tile my floor, and in turn I was hired by him at $10 an hour to help him with the work. I shaved a bit off the cost and learned a lot from him.

    • Nice man! That’s a pretty cheap apprenticeship, and for a small cost for that days work, you now have a new skill that you can piggyback on to build the next even faster!

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