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5 Gifts That Keep on Giving

[fa icon="calendar"] Fri, Dec 12, 2014 / by Andre Palko

helping-hand-heart250During this time of year there is always a bit of mild craziness hanging in the air. At your print shop there could be year-end deadlines to meet with fewer work days to meet them and perhaps a party to arrange (or attend). At home you’ve got your list of gifts to buy and family functions to arrange and attend. Sometimes the stress leaks out in less than positive ways.

No matter what your faith or beliefs, the spirit of this season is the same; it’s all about love. A friend told me a story this week that reminded me that the best gifts we can give usually don’t cost us anything.

It was a dark and stormy night. (I always wanted to use that line.) She drove to a VW-Audi dealership to pick up her old but serviceable VW at the service department. After paying the $1400 bill, she asked one of the salesmen standing around if he could do her a favor. “Could you follow me to the Mercedes dealer down the street? I’m having a problem with my Mercedes and need to drop it off for service and come back here to take the VW home.”

Mind you, there are some relevant facts which should have made this a simple decision for the salesman:

  • My friend is a nicely dressed business woman in her fifties
  • The dealership was right down the street in a small town
  • It was cold, rainy and snowy
  • It was 5:50 p.m. and the dealer’s service department closed at 6:00. Thus people were getting ready to head home…past the Mercedes dealer
  • There were several employees standing around the showroom on a Tuesday night with no customers in sight.
  • She is the ideal customer for any auto service department, always giving free reign to do what is needed to keep the car safe

The salesman promptly said, “No.” Shen then politely asked the service manager for the same favor and he too refused. Left with no choice, she drove to the Mercedes dealer to drop her car, wondering how she would get back to the VW shop in time.

Her first question, before she left her keys or even mentioned the car problem, was, “Can I possibly get a lift back to the VW shop...” Before she could finish the sentence the woman at the dealership immediately replied, “Yes, no problem!” A second woman, overhearing the conversation chimed in, “Oh, my car is already warmed up and I was just getting ready to leave. I’ll be glad to take you!”

It turns out the woman who gave my friend the ride had to drive in the opposite direction from her route home. Now there are a LOT of business lessons in this story. Those are for another time. Considering the season, what’s most noteworthy is the simple but powerful act of giving.

Mother Teresa said of giving, “Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.” The woman who drove my friend back to the VW shop, no questions asked, lifted a tremendous load from my friend. Imagine your spouse, daughter, mother, or sister in the same situation. You would want someone to say “Yes” to her need. Giving always pays dividends. In this case, the old VW will most certainly be replaced by a Mercedes, and not by another VW or Audi.

In the spirit of the season, of loving our often unlovable fellow human beings, here are five gifts you can give this season that won’t cost you a penny.

Jim Rohn said, “One of the greatest gifts you can give is the gift of your attention.” Sometimes that is all the other person needs. As some crusty old friends have advised me, “You have two ears and one mouth. Listen twice as much as you talk.”
A Smile
Mother Teresa wrote a lot about smiles. “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.” Sean Covey said of this statement, “If you approach life this way, always looking for ways to build instead of to tear down, you'll be amazed at how much happiness you can give to others and find for yourself.”
A Kind Word
Many years ago and in something of a dejected state of mind, I stopped at my usual coffee stop on the way to my bindery job. The woman at the checkout counter, sensing my gloom, said, “Hey, whatever it is will get better. Your coffee’s my treat today.” It’s funny, I don’t recall the problem, but I do recall feeling better from her kind words and from the simple act of giving a cup of coffee. “Kind words are short and easy to speak but their echoes are truly endless.” Again, from Mother Teresa.
Say Yes When You Don’t Feel Like It
The tale of the two car dealerships is a perfect example. Don’t lose faith because some of our fellow man is not so agreeable. It’s been my experience that most people are good hearted, giving and kind. Although it’s often hard to do, I’ve never regretted putting myself on the giving end of that equation.
Help Someone Finish a Task
Help a busy co-worker or family member by lightening their load. Neaten a colleague’s work area or do the dishes at home. If you can do it unseen, so much the better.

OK, I admit there is not much technical talk today to help with your printing or post-press operation. But it’s often attention to the personal that can make all the difference in the professional.  I’m not sure who said this, but it fits the season: “You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving.” If you want to get into the spirit of the season, and you want the spirit of the season to get into you, try giving some free gifts.

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Andre Palko

Written by Andre Palko

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