When Giving Makes You Exhausted…

When Giving Makes You Exhausted…

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I’m a thief—an excellent one—but still, a thief! I have no new ideas. I've gained everything I know, teach, coach, and write about by being fully present to others’ wisdom. 

I used to think I needed to develop novel ideas, talks, and teachings, but I’ve changed my mind in the last decade. Why should I torture myself to create a new idea or judge myself as “not creative” if I’m not the inventor of a concept when so much valuable knowledge, information, and wisdom already exists?

Andre Gide put it best when he wrote, “Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again.”

Those of you in my coaching community have often heard me repeat that knowing and doing are unrelated. We know this through scientific evidence and by looking at our own lives.

I excelled at acquiring knowledge during the first five decades of my life. However, it wasn't until I grasped how to apply that knowledge to transform my day-to-day existence that I truly started living a more conscious, purposeful, and relaxed life.

So, let’s go back to why I’m a thief.

I am still a knowledge freak, and regarding certain teachers, I might even be called a “groupie”! However, I am constantly alert to what I can take away and bring to my and my clients’ lives in every conversation throughout my day.  

Whether it’s a quick chat with my neighborhood barista, a passing conversation with my son, or a deep conversation with a long-time ultra-running friend, you better believe I’m stealing.

In his book, “Give and Take,” Adam Grant explains that we all tend to fall into one of 3 categories: 

  1. Givers
  2. Takers and 
  3. Matchers

Because I work with many professionals and high-level executives, I was naturally curious to understand the evidence for how our success at work is influenced by our “giving style.”

Evidence supports what has always been my gut instinct. As this article from Positive Psychology explains, Givers enjoy more career success. At work, Givers are supportive people who enjoy sharing their expertise and helping the careers of others. They share their networks and business contacts and give their time to mentoring people. Studies by Adam Grant have shown that the higher we look up the corporate ladder, the more Givers we find.

But while more Givers are found at the top of the corporate ladder, surprisingly, the bottom is also occupied by Givers.


Because there are two very distinct kinds of Givers.

The Selfless Giver gives without regard for herself. This kind of person comes to me exhausted from life and resentful of her loved ones. She gives and gives until she falls off the cliff, screaming, “Who’s taking care of me?!” like the coyote in the classic Bugs Bunny cartoons.



The Selfless Giver does not do well at work because the general perception of her by colleagues is that, at best, she’s not “strong enough,” and at worst, she’s a doormat. 

So many people can relate to this kind of giving; sooner or later, they get tired of it and question whether they should become…

  • Matchers (those who believe that “relationships are governed by even exchanges of favors”) and
  • Takers (those who “like to get more than they give”).

Source: Give and Take by Adam Grant

That’s certainly an option. But it’s hard to change our long-time habits and tendencies, and why should we do that if there’s another option that has us showing up as Givers who are Winners?

The first time I heard the perfect description of this kind of Giver was in conversation with Kelly, my ultra-running buddy and client. She called it being a Fierce Giver.

“Wow, she nailed it!” I thought.

As an honorable thief, I told her I would steal those words from her, and she gave her blessing.

During a business coaching conversation with my son, he, the most generous person I know, said, “I’m not interested in a bigger piece of the pie for myself; I want to help create a much bigger pie for everyone.”


If you’re a Giver, I suggest you don’t change to a Matcher or Taker. You’d be doing yourself and the rest of us a disservice. Instead, do everything you can to transform into a Fierce Giver.

Here are a few suggestions for you to get started:

  1. Explore the science of giving and begin the practice of grounding yourself in the belief that Fierce Givers finish strong. If it’s easier for you to think of a new thought and create a new belief when supported by scientific evidence, read Adam Grant’s book, “Give and Take.” However, if you just look around, you will notice that the people experiencing more life satisfaction across many areas of their lives are the Fierce (what Adam Grant calls “Otherish”) Givers, not the Matchers and Takers.
  2. Identify ONLY one area of your life—work, parenting, marriage, social relationships—where you are willing to experiment with showing up as a Fierce Giver.
  3. Begin with small steps. Your toolbox for this transformation will include identifying your life buckets, honoring your calendar, eliminating people-pleasing, practicing kindness through clarity, communicating productively, and so much more.


I didn’t say it would be easy or fast. But there is a system and a process that will have you honoring the Giver you are and showing up with more joy, ease, and power in your everyday life.

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