Aké Satia is the Chief Vision Officer at Aké Satia, a Human Capital firm in the DC area focused on strengthening organizations by bolstering the intersection of people strategy and business strategy.



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The Reality of Giving

Happy chilly Monday!

As the popular song goes, it’s the most wonderful time of the year! With smiles and laughs around every corner and chocolate galore, it certainly seems to be! I don’t know about you, but although I am not a fan of cold weather, I warmly welcome snowfall on Christmas mornings with a cup of creamy hot cocoa! Therefore, in 14 days, I am wishing for a white Christmas! We’ll see what Santa brings! 😉

We ended our last piece titled The Art of Receiving with this poignant phrase: Gratitude is all an authentic giver ever truly desires! When you read that phrase, perhaps you murmured: Aké, not me! When I give, I expect to receive in-kind. What about the principle of reciprocity? Is it wrong to expect to get when I give? Or to reap where I sowed? Why do I have to be the only one who gives? Like everyone else, I have needs!
To this, I say, I get it! No matter how many years young we are, we still hope Santa leaves something nice under the tree for us on December 25.😊
Indeed, fewer subjects are more mind-bending than giving. Fortunately, some clues enable us to solve the puzzle and edge us a little closer to reality. Here are a couple:

Giving begets Getting.

The desire to have our needs met is natural and potent. Therefore, when another gives us what we need in a manner that resonates or in our love language, we feel they love us. However, sometimes, we are slow to recognize when others meet our needs, especially when they do so in a way we do not expect.
Think about it: We often gauge whether another loves and cares for us by fixating on how we feel around them based on our interpretation of their behavior towards us – with little consideration of their needs and capabilities. Unfortunately, by so doing, we use a myopic perspective to form a panoptic conclusion. But to see clearly, we must look beyond ourselves. I learned this lesson firsthand years ago when I worked with a standout individual called Kyle!

Looking beyond oneself

Kyle joined the organization several years after me, and though younger than me, he was very mature and thoughtful, but it took some time for me to realize and appreciate this. When I initially met Kyle, I felt slighted by him! – In meetings, whenever I posed questions or tried to engage in dialogue, he never acknowledged me. However, after meetings, I often noticed him walking off with other individuals engaging in a vibrant discussion. 

Naturally, I was puzzled and peeved, and in an attempt to decode the script, I asked a coworker for her opinion on the level of engagement at the meetings, wondering whether I needed to do something different. As it turned out, I did, but it wasn’t what I expected, and her response stunned me! She informed me that Kyle was deaf but was proficient in American Sign Language and lipreading. Therefore, it was imperative to face him while speaking. Upon hearing this, I was aghast and reflected on how I had been doing the exact opposite of what was needed to engage Kyle: I had not been adequately facing him in the conference room while asking questions to the team. Bewildered, I thought: Could it be that while I assumed Kyle was dismissive of me, he felt the same about me? Or worse yet, he thought I was being rude?
One thing was sure: I needed to look beyond myself, consider Kyle, and adjust my approach accordingly. Once I tweaked my approach and directed more attention toward him as appropriate, his generosity of spirit and grand personality beamed.

Giving is mutually beneficial.

Kyle was very committed and contributed significantly to work initiatives. Importantly, being a member of a younger generation than me, he offered unique perspectives and fluidly brought others along with his great sense of humor. From my experience, I gathered two simple lessons. When we give, we receive, but we may not be able to determine when and how we will receive. Also, considering others and giving to others is always mutually beneficial in partnering.

When you read the line above Giving is mutually beneficial, you may have thought, Aké, benefiting from giving seems selfish and sullies the waters! I believe authentic giving must produce noticeable discomfort and result in some loss because when one gives, they have less of what they had.
Indeed, many of us tend to think so, and in my 20s, I held this belief. – I assumed giving was synonymous with loss. But over time, I learned that this line of thinking is problematic, as it suggests authentic giving must not benefit the giver and could discourage one from giving. To better understand, let us consider some common scenarios.

The Happiness Trifecta

When one serves at a homeless shelter, they give their time, skills, and heart. Also, by serving others, they get a natural mood boost, aka a hormonal boost in dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin, i.e., the delectable combination of three hormones aptly coined the Happiness Trifecta in The Neuroscience of Giving | Psychology Today article. Beautifully, the release of the Happiness Trifecta pertains to serving – holistically. 

Here are other instances where the Happiness Trifecta is in effect!

One stays at work late to help a coworker complete a challenging project, and they are successful in the endeavor. In turn, they form a deep bond with their coworker and feel a deep sense of connection and safety on the team. In another instance, a parent works diligently to give their children a good education. As the children blossom and the door of opportunity opens for them, and they gracefully walk through it, the parent is delighted and feels accomplished.
In the above instances, one always benefitted by giving. However, one need not feel guilty for getting enjoyment from their generosity unless one is putting on a show or being manipulative. Fortunately, as most would attest, such instances are the minority, not the norm.
Friend, as was wisely said, a giving person will receive much in return, and someone who gives water will also receive the water they need.

May we all give generously and receive graciously this season and beyond.

For you and to you,


Image credit: Pexels | Cup of couple



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