Just the other week, the two social marketing guys I’m working with sent me Danielle Laporte’s new book, Desire Map (which , by the way, contains some pretty good content).
The note read: “Angela, I am way overdue on this, but here is a gift from me and John Wayne. It is Danielle Laporte’s Desire Map book . . . “
This note got me thinking. Why on earth did he qualify their gift in this way? Way over due?
Maybe for them because they decided to gift the book to me some time ago. But, from my point of view, I was delighted to receive the gift. Overdue? I don’t think so. It was right on time.
First, this gift just like any other gift wasn’t due to me. And second, I welcome and appreciate gifts whenever they come to me.
As I thought about it longer, I realized that apologizing when we give gifts, isn’t really that uncommon. How many times have you given a gift and started with “they didn’t have the one I wanted to get you, but…”, I wanted to get you…”, “I’m sorry I didn’t get this to you sooner…”.
I know I’ve done this more times than I can remember. Most recently, I caught myself doing it this past weekend. I had planned to surprise my husband by taking him to see Alton Brown’s Edible Inevitable tour. It was a perfect surprise. My husband and I are both foodies and my husband is a huge Alton Brown fan. By divine chance I found out the tour was coming to town and my husband had absolutely no clue – even when he checked the website, for whatever reason, it didn’t show that the tour was coming to our area. When I called for tickets, the meet and greet tickets were sold out. So, I got regular tickets. I still was giddy because I knew how much he would enjoy it, but I had a pesky, nagging thought that gnawed on my mind from the time I bought the tickets to the day of the show- “the meet and greet would have been so much better”.
When it was finally time to reveal the surprise, guess what? I had a strong urge to tell him about the meet and greet and how that’s really what I wanted to get him.
Yep, I wanted to apologize for not getting him the particular tickets, even though it was out of my control – the meet and greet tickets were sold out. I wanted to tell him how I wanted to do more. I wanted to prove to him of how thoughtful I was and how much I love him. However, by succumbing to that urge, I would have diminished the gift I was giving.
How often do you hold yourself back or minimize your efforts and actions by apologizing and thinking, well, I wanted to do this, that or the other thing. This limits the joy we feel from giving, and dampens the success of a well planned surprise, and more often than not it causes the recipient to reassure you that your gift is perfect. And, that’s the crux of the issue – the need for reassurance. Giving requires you to be vulnerable. When you give, you really are putting yourself out there. And, that is the true gift of giving – sharing a bit of yourself with the recipient.
When we apologize or make excuses for our gifts, we unwittingly limit ourselves, hamper our ability to experience joy, and, ultimately, reduce the power of our gift. Part of this stems from the well known saying that “it’s the thought that counts”. That’s a nice saying, but let’s dispel that myth right now. When it comes to giving and sharing, that’s a lie. Thoughts of being kind and generous warms the heart, but the unapologetic act of giving what we are able to, uplifts the soul of both giver and receiver regardless of the size of the gift. Think about it, would you rather hear your friend tell you how she thought about planning a huge surprise party for you with all the trimmings, but couldn’t pull it off for whatever reason, or would you rather spend an hour of quality time enjoying the company of your friend? I know which I’d prefer.
When you give, don’t be ashamed or hold back. Maybe the next gift will be “bigger” or “better”, but the gift you have now still is a gift and still is meaningful and powerful. It deserves to be shared and valued for what it is – a generous offering of love and appreciation. It’s not the size or timing of the gift, it is the gift of giving and receiving the gift. That is where the power and joy resides. In the act – the exchange – in the simple saying of “here, I got this for you”.
The time to share your gifts is now. And, the important thing is that we share them. The recipient always is ready to accept them. This is true not only for material gifts, but for our unique personal talents and gifts as well. Our gifts, in all their forms, are meant to be given and shared.
So, when you’re the giver, give and share your gifts unapologetically; when you’re the recipient, receive gratefully, humbly and knowing the gift arrived right on time.