Giving Away Your Gifts


My friend celebrated the life of his mother in law last weekend. She lived to the age of 95 and passed away last week. My friend had always spoken highly of her (unusual for a son-in-law), and even though I never met her, I figured she was special.

When I asked about her life, he explained that she was a wonderful singer and musician who had sung in a church choir for much of her life. When he had asked why she had done this for so long, she replied, “It’s a gift I’ve been given. I must give it away to others”.

I was touched by her response, and it led me to think about how leaders might respond if asked about the gifts they have and whether they are giving them away. Many of us may not be thinking about the inherent traits we have as a gift to be given to others.  We might be more inclined to be unaware of our inherent gifts or to think about giving money or material goods. Leaders, especially, need to consider the non-material gifts they have that can be given to others “for the greater good”.

The Gifts You Can Give

Let’s explore some of the gifts you may have been given or that you have developed in your time on earth. These will be the traits that come easily to you. What would it take for you to bring these to work and “give them away”?

Kindness is often absent in today’s rough and tumble workplace where we might believe it doesn’t have a place. Realize that it does belong in your everyday interactions at work, and that you must give it away in order to model the compassion you want expressed at work. What keeps you from gifting your kindness?

Inspiration when given as a gift is like the fuel that feeds the engine of prosperity for your organization. When you inspire others, they go beyond being regular to becoming extraordinary. What inspiration are you holding inside that you can provide to your organization?

Clarity allows you to sew the pieces of the reason-why quilt together in a pattern that provides understanding and releases discretionary effort on the part of your employees. When you have the gift of clarity, you must speak up so that others can also see in order to act. What is clear to you that others have not yet realized?

Gratefulness, when personally cultivated by you, is a gift that your followers need. In a world devoid of positive feedback, you can make a difference. Are you openly expressing what you are grateful for in those who follow you?

Love isn’t a word or an emotion that we admit has a place at work. Yet you have an opportunity to express it many times during a day. What do you love about your work? What do you love about your team, your organization, your customers?  Let them know.

What other inherent gifts do you have that you can give to others?


I am a former executive in a Fortune 100 company. I have owned and operated an executive coaching firm since 2003 called Aspire Collaborative Services LLC. We partner with great leaders to help them become even greater at developing, improving, and sustaining relationships with the people who are essential to their success. This blog is for leaders and those who help them to be more intentional about relationships at work. My top personal values include respect for others, kindness, compassion, collaboration and gratitude. I work very hard at practicing my values daily and when I don’t succeed, I practice some more. I am married with two wonderful daughters and two spoiled pugs.

11 comments on “Giving Away Your Gifts

  1. One gift that comes to mind is presence. We often connect presence with ‘touches’ – an email, text, tweet, FB post. There are lots of ways to touch, but are we really present? Many of us find great joy connecting with others, being present with them while doing work and life.

    If that is your gift – leverage email, texts, etc to extend it, but not to replace the ‘old fashioned way’.

    Nice thought this morning Mary Jo.

  2. Welcome, Scott! How could I have forgotten the gift of presence? It has been a huge learning for me throughout my own life and career that presence is sometimes all that is needed. Thanks for the reminder.

  3. Hi Mary Jo,

    One of the gifts that comes to mind for me is the gift of humility. Many of the other gifts you mention are of course part of the whole notion of humility so I run the risk of being a bit redundant here. But, the gift of humility, for me, allows for a kind of generosity that is generally not present when the ego takes first place.

    Thanks for pushing my “reflection” button once more with yet another insightful post.

  4. I’m thinking you give it to others by giving credit to them first when things go well & looking in the mirror first when they don’t. You give the gift of humility when you make the collective work more important than your own needs.
    I also think it’s often hard to do…but worth striving for. 🙂

  5. My favorite here is inspiration, because that requires us to polish off a few gems from an ordinary day until they shine as jewels for others. Thanks Mary Jo!

    Guess I’d add CURIOSITY – if I were to add to this cool list:-) Curiosity’s the gift of staying alive mentally – looking for nuances that could hold innovation possibilities – the lifeline that prevents us from defaulting to ruts – the trigger that stirs up more brainpower when we could be bored.

    Your own work, and words, and exchanges tend to brim over with curiosity – and that makes it fun to chase down insights with you:-)

  6. Wonderful Ellen! Thank you for the addition – curiosity is of course a gift that leaders can give to others. I think it helps leaders to stay “open” to possibility in the relationships they have. (p.s. thank you for the kind words. My own curiosity may come from my eductional background as a biologist – a profession that fails without it!).

  7. Gwyn, thank you for returning to answer that question. Your thinking on this is unique and wise. Perhaps I’ll see you do a blog post about it in the future?

  8. This is a good reminder. We all want to be appreciated and feel like we matter. Giving the team credit for a job well done is not a common thing done by leaders these days. When I have been thanked in the past I am so ready to work harder. The thankyou doesn’t cost the company anything and consider the benefits in productivity and loyalty! I have thanked those that helped me be successful. Some of those people were very appreciative and this was one time they were thanked. These people were the good workers you wanted on your team. Why were they not thanked?

    Thanks for your article.

  9. Brent, thanks. I especially appreciated your comment that “When I have been thanked I am ready to work harder”. Another reason why managers need to make the effort; what organization couldn’t benefit from having people work harder because they feel appreciated?

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