Are you a Generous Mind?

Are you a Generous Mind? If you are intrigued by the idea, this is a place to explore what it means to you. Our blog focuses on helping you to learn what it means to be generous with what you know. You will find helpful tips and encouraging examples that will inspire you to release your ideas to the world! Find out more at www.generousmind.com.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Christmas Generosity

Why do we struggle with generosity that doesn't add up the way we would like it to? As I think about Christmas over the next few days, I realize that God was very generous with the news about his son's coming to earth - he just wasn't generous with the people we would expect. Shepherds, young couples, foreign kings, old men.

In the era of instant information, we think ideas are only as valuable as the importance of the people who know them. But is this really true? Was the Christmas story less important becuase the emperor wasn't told?

Ideas are shared with those who will accept them and use them wisely. Those are not always the ones we expect. Christmas has a wonderful lesson about generosity for us - God rewards his revelations to those whose hearts are open to his words.

New Article on Great Commission Communicators

Check out my latest article on communication for Momentum Magazine. Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

People are the Mission

One of the easiest mistakes we make when we dive into the information age and begin to let the ideas roll over us, is that we can easily forget what the point is. What is the point of an idea? Is it to make money? Is it to bring us fame? Is it to solve social ills?

There are many uses for an idea and so there are many reasons to be generous with them. But no matter how hard I try and how ever many times I get distracted from the true focus, I always come back to one answer - people are the mission.

All ideas are exciting and powerful with tremendous potential, but they are worth little until they touch people. What good are Nathaniel Hawethorn's powerful stories, Edgar Allen Poe's haunting poems, or Peter Drucker's practical essays if they do not help someone.

You might ask, "Help them to what?" Sometimes I get caught in a misconception that "help" has to mean something deep and earth-shattering such as bringing someone out of depression, helping save a marriage, or guiding someone into the right career. But making people the mission doesn't have to be that dramatic.

Sometimes being strategically generous with our ideas can produce encouragement on a hard day, resolve in the face of doubt, a smile or even a laugh . . . those things are what pull someone out of the ordinary and into aliveness.

Yes, aliveness - it may or may not be a real word but it captures the feeling that I am trying to explain. Most people live most days without much life in them. They simply survive the responsibility and the ache of dreams unfulfilled, discipline unattained and peace unfound. Our minds may hold a key thought that can release potential, drive, emotion . . . life.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Nothing More than an Idea

Civilization is the process of reducing the infinite to the finite.
Oliver Wendell Holmes
I spent this week in some 200 year old villages in South East Asia. Grass thatched their roofs, palm fronds made up their fences. But at the same time there was a great sense of appreciation for ideas. In fact, one village had only 2 radios and they were the lifeblood of these people.

You would think that with all of the dynamic interactive media we have, we would be more appreciative of information . . . but instead it makes us more warry and more closed to new ideas. Information overwhelm us and block us from seeing truth. Yes, information is not necessarily truth. Imagine that.

Each day that I create one more piece of content I wonder if I am simply participating in the annilation of the idea in the developed countries of the world. Are ideas rejuvinating us or sweeping over us like a tidal wave?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

What would the world look like?

Imagine a world of generous minds!

If we were all generous with our ideas, how would the world be different? Imagine a world where people are looking for ways to share what they know with others. How would that change the business world? How about the nonprofit world? What about your neighborhood?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Who Are the Generous Minds

It is easy to assume that Generous Minds are authors, teachers and speakers. But actually, these are the professionals - it is a bit like managers of large foundations. The key to true knowledge transfer is having people from all walks of life looking for opportunities to be generous with what they know.

Here is the question - Will you be generous today?

Reading Differently

If we are to be Generous Minds, we have to learn to read differently. Reading used to be a very linear exercise with the goal of interacting with an entire concept. The problems with this are huge in today's culture. Today, there are many more resources than in the past. Many of these resources talk about much of the same thing with a different twist. The other challenge is that we don't have the increased amounts of time to read the growing amount of information. Between the Internet, magazines, books, etc it is overwhelming unless we think about reading differently.
Reading is critical to being a Generous Mind because unless you are honing what you know and learning new things, you will have nothing to share.
Here are a few tips for a different type of reading:

1. Don't look at a book as a linear process of starting at page 1 and finishing at the last page. Look at the table of contents, skim the subheads and pick out the key points. This works better for non-fiction.

2. Don't look at novels, like John Grisham's legal thrillers, the same as nonfiction. Novels are very much like movies in today's culture. They are written to be read quickly and to be experienced vividly. When you are scheduling your time, starting looking at these novels the same as renting a video at Blockbuster.

3. Read more than one book at once. Don't feel like you have to finish one to start another. Books are functional knowledge points. You may need to read a certain chapter of one book before you can move on to do something else. Read proactively so that your reading decisions are based on what you are trying to accomplish. For instance, if you are going to a parenting seminar this weekend, you may want to read something the speaker has written ahead of time.

4. Read many different types of writing on a single issue. For instance, if you are reading about management, you need to read magazines, books, Internet white papers, etc. These each will come at the topic differently and give you a much broader set of knowledge.

Happy Reading!!!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Gmail

Google's new email is generous with hard disk space and generous with search capacity. Why are they being generous? Well, there are probably several reasons. The main one is that they get the power of information. They know that if you give people space and ease of access they will communicate and share. If you put controls on them they will automatically be more reserved. Look at hotmail.com or yahoo.com which put limits on their mail. They did it to control costs but they drove away the interaction of the people.

Generosity pays. The more people have rooom to interact with each other on their terms the more likely they are to be creative and generous.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Finding Good Stories

One of the greatest challenges I have is identifying good stories about people who are being generous with what they know. The reason it is difficult is becuase information is flying around the world all the time. Each bit of data is out there for a different reason. Some is out to convert you. Some is out to sell you. Some is out to annoy you. Some is out to inspire you.

Each author has a very motive for throwing that information out to the world. So if anyone reading this hears a great story about someone who shares what they know to help those around them. Let me know!!

Monday, October 03, 2005

Does being Generous mean Cheap?

To the generous mind the heaviest debt is that of gratitude, when it is not in our power to repay it.
Benjamin Franklin (1706 - 1790)

One very serious conern about being generous with ideas is the quality of those ideas. Benjamin Franklin makes a wonderful point. He says that we cannot repay a generous mind because their free gift to us is beyond price.

But so many times, it is easy to give away that which doesn't take much to give. I think about all of the "made in China" gifts you get for giving to a charity. Well, is it that way with ideas? Do we cull over the pile of ideas in our head and give away the ones that we don't want to use? The ones that we're not sure anyone will use?

I have to admit that sometimes I save the powerful concepts for myself and throw the ones that I don't really want to develop out like old bones I have already chewed.

But there are times when I choose to share an idea I am very excited about. Those are usually the times of the greatest synergy and growth. My idea gets sharpened and usually it sprouts new ideas in my partner in generosity.

That is when the generous mind truely shines.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Generous Spin?

What is SPIN? It is the art of marketing and molding information to "sell" a product, idea or person to the target audience. I hear this term so much on the news where they are used to people trying to promote a cause or maybe just themselves.

So here is the question: Can marketing/advertising or "spin" be generous? Now, we probably should make a distinction. You can say "TV is becoming more generous with the time the allot to marketing." I don't mean generosity as it relates to quantity. I am trying to define whether a person's efforts to convince me of the value of a product or a person's efforts to convince me to vote for a particular candidate are generous.

Do they fit into the concept of the Generous Mind? As I have asked myself this question, I am leaning towards "NO." The main reason for my strong reaction is that generosity is selfless and is most interested in the person who will benefit. Spin is selfish. It is trying to convince (sometimes through honest means and sometimes not) you that my agenda is right and should be followed. Sometimes that convincing leads to money spent, allegiance given, time allocated . . .

How can spin be generous? If we are looking at how to share the knowledge that we have been given, we have to watch out for the tendancy to move that generous practice into the commercial realm. That isn't hard - its called spin.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Purpose in Sharing

What motivates you to share? Share what? Share anything.

I'll tell you a few things that motivate me:

1. I want to invest in people who are in my life.
2. I feel a need to impress others.
3. I know something that others need to be successful.
4. I want to sharpen my own ideas.

I think that our purpose in sharing says alot about us and about the quality of what we share. Are we sharing to impress others? Are we sharing because we genuinly care for people? Are we sharing because we value others opinions? Are we sharing because we don't like silence?

Why are you sharing?

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Ideas Disappearing

We live in a moment of history where change is so speeded up that we begin to see the present only when it is already disappearing.
R. D. Laing

Sometimes I wonder why we struggle to share what we know and communicate with each other when we are surrounded by a virtual arsenal of communications tools. Well, when you think about it, it is pretty simple. Things change so quickly that we have no time to consider what to do with what we learned yesterday. We are being forced to consume something new today.

What would happen if you didn't learn anything new tomorrow and you could invest the whole day in thinking about what you learned today? Your thoughts would probably be clearer - but lets face it, that will never happen.

So what you learn is disappearing around you. Well, I think the only thing to do is to discipline ourselves into committing our ideas and thoughts into a form where they will not be forgotten. Take this blog or the millions of others. Some people ask why blogs are taking off. I think the disappearance of the idea is part of the answer.

We all want what we treasure to last. Where do your ideas go?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Generosity When no One is Listening

How can you be generous with ideas in a time when everyone is so saturated with information? What can you do to break through to the audience that you really want to share with? Well, there are many people talking about this difficult challenge, but here is one thought:

I would like to introduce the concept of a Micro Market. A Micro Market is a small group of people that act as a cohesive group with unique traites and interests. There are Micro Markets all around us. For instance, a play group, a church, an association or club, etc.

In an era of intense competition personal impact is critical. There are great opportunities to impact people at these Micro Market levels. We can share ideas and establish meaningful dialogue on many key topics.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Generosity In Tragedy

We are most generous in tragedy. I have been watching the Hurricane Katrina news and hearing about amazing acts of generosity. One evening while listening to a call in music show, a trucker was on talking about how they simply loaded up their truck and headed towards the disaster - who knows how many hours/days they drove. We have heard about benefit concerts, heroic actions, and millions of dollars raised.

So where does the Generous Mind fit into this sort of tragedy. From a high level view, you would think that more than ideas - food, medicine and money are needed. But if we take a closer look, I think we would find something very different. We relied on two key government agencies before and after the storm. The first was the National Hurricane Center in Miami and the second was the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

As I watched both of these entities interact with the world one was clearly a powerful example of idea generosity and the other was not. The hurricane watchers have made it their main job to share information. They have designed processes, systems and communications vehicles to provide up-to-the minute information. People relied on that information heavily as they considered evacuation plans etc.

However, FEMA was very stingy with information. People at all levels have not stopped talking about the lack of information and the struggle to understand what the government's response would be and when it would come. Some news agencies have even written up articles that show the FEMA announcements compared to what was going on in New Orleans specifically.

Now, in fairness to FEMA, it is a whole lot easier to share information about a coming storm than it is to manage a disaster area. But let us study for a minute why one would have such a high value for being generous with their information and why the other would not.

I think one of the main reasons for the difference is the issue of control. In our human nature, we only like to share what we can control. We like to understand something, study it, test it and then share that knowledge. On the other hand, when all is uncertain and we do not have control - we are more likely to duck into our shell and wait till we have regained the upper hand.

In the case of the National Hurricane Center, they have their predictions, radar, air planes and historic trends so that the situation is more predictable. They have much information so they are more willing to share their prediction. That said, hurricanes tend to defy predictions and do the unexpected.

In the case of FEMA, everything was an unknown - the number of dead, the number of stranded, the depth of the water, the status of the levies, and on and on. Why should they be generous when they know nothing and are struggling to get their hands around the situation?

But let me just have you consider something. If we are generous with the little we have when we are out of control - that generosity is a force that will begin to solidify the unknown. What happens when we admit we are out of control or when we share the little we know - others step up and fill in the blanks. People respond with the generosity we have shown.

Think about the Amber Alert (the system to get information out about abducted children). As we share about an abduction, people look for ways to respond to that generosity and provide the information needed.

If generosity of ideas is hampered by a need for control of the situation, how will others respond? The power of generosity is mainly in its impact on those who recieve it.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Is Generosity Worth It?

Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats.
Howard Aiken (1900 - 1973)

Some people are very concerned about the possibility of an idea being stolen. They copyright, trademark and patent their assets. This is smart. In fact, it is only natural to put that mark of ownership.

However, the greater question is why they are doing this. Most people who are very focused on this, do it so that they will be able to take their ideas and produce products, services and content that can be offered to the world. If you were to really push them to respond to you, I think you would find that their reason for protecting their work is to be able to offer it to the world in a way that will help sustain their livelyhood and also sustain the quality of the product.

So this discussion of public domain and copywrite isn't as easy as we sometimes make it. We demonize either party without realizing that the Generous Mind can exist in both camps.

How do we recognize a Generous Mind?

The 20th Century elevated the knowable. Knowledge, science, research was the key to understanding the world around us. So as many of us have grown up, the world has told us what a smart person will do and look like. They will be business people, educators, consultants - knowledge workers.

If we assume that only those who are the traditional knowledge workers can be generous with their minds, we are missing some of the greatest minds. The 21st Century has a different value than the knowable. This century we elevate the being. So who are the experts today? Who are the ones who share with the world how to "be?" Think about this as you meet people tomorrow and ask yourself this, "Does this person have a true heart to help me "become" more today?"

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Do Generous Minds Think Alike?

You won't know the answer to that question until you begin to share your ideas. One of the greatest roadblocks to innovation and creativity is that we are moving so quickly through our lives. We forget to stop and share what we are learning.

Sure you have to patent ideas, copyright content and trademark brands. But remember that throughout that whole process you need to sprinkle generosity. I am convinced that only as we share ideas will our most valuable thoughts mature and develop.

So this blog is for those who will join us in sharing ideas. Lets start sharing . . .