One night back in 2006 when I was 21, this mentor of mine who was only 26 years old and earning $13 million a year had invited me out to visit him in Santa Monica. He probably asked me to show up around eight in the evening. I lagged like no tomorrow and showed up at 11 pm instead.
He told me how much I missed out on, talked about how amazing Boa Steakhouse was, and that I was quite unfortunate to miss out on an amazing dinner. Reflecting back, I don’t really think I cared that much about a meal, or anything else really, as I was making six figures a year and didn’t really care about anything at all.
Well, he went over a few things he wanted to do with me, then we went to Yankee Doodles at the Third Street Promenade to eat. He paid for the meal. No big deal. I didn’t really feel gracious, as I did have the means to afford to cover a meal like that. However, after we finished eating, he instructed the waitress to put the leftovers in to-go boxes.
I never put any meal in a to-go box. Whatever I didn’t eat, I just had the staff take back and throw away. It was how I was accustomed to being, since I was this kid who kind of cared a little too much about status and image.
Well, regardless, after we ate, he handed me two of the four to go boxes we had. Yes, we had ordered that much food. He then instructed me to give them away to some homeless people who were on the benches.
I wandered around for a few minutes and decided upon a person to give a meal to. He wasn’t asking for change. He wasn’t being a nuisance. He was just minding his own business. So I decided to hand him a meal.
Never in my life had I ever thought of handing over a homeless person anything aside from a dollar. Never in my life had I imagined what kind of impact I could make on a person, just by handing over what I considered “trash”, as it was a meal I would never eat again. Yet, as I handed over this homeless person a meal, his eyes lit up and he thanked me profusely, from the bottom of his heart.
I was touched. My heart lit up. I felt a rush of emotion overcome my body and my soul. It was as if I was loved. Loved by a stranger who I would never see again. Loved by a stranger I could never expect anything in return from. I felt amazing inside.
This emotion stayed with me for weeks. It was a feeling that I couldn’t emulate, no matter how much I received, no matter what else I did. It was a feeling I could only have by doing one thing. By giving without any type of expectation at all.
So, why is giving better than receiving? Because something extremely insignificant to you can mean the world to someone else.
Originally posted on Quora.
Leonard Kim is Managing Partner at InfluenceTree. At InfluenceTree, Leonard and his team teach you how to build your (personal or business) brand, get featured in publications and growth hack your social media following.