The Joy of Giving

In a sense, giving is the best way to experience the feeling of contentment. It’s a way of saying to yourself, “I have more than I need to be happy.” It’s a way of practicing the concept of abundance. Imagine your day, your workplace as a banquet or a pot-luck dinner, filled with wonderful and perhaps not-so wonderful things. The question is – what do you have to offer? You know you’re going to enjoy many different dishes. What would you like to bring to the feast? No matter the individual quality of the contribution, the sum of the whole at a pot-luck is almost always a happy, spirited affair.


My coaching clients tell me of worrying about not being good enough. A frequent challenge teams face is a feeling of unspoken internal competition, an unconscious measuring and competing against people on the same team. The joy of giving is one of the surest methods of overcoming these traps. Even if on the face of it you don’t yet believe “I have something to give,” know that there’s a wiser part of you, sometimes difficult to access, who knows this to be true. And nothing will help you to believe something quicker than acting like you already believe it. For example, volunteering for Hospice has proven for many people to be an effective way of dealing with their personal grief over losing a loved one, either literally through a death or metaphorically with a relationship ending.


How can you most joyfully give? Look at what you’re drawn to. Would you prefer to give your energy, your monetary wealth or a combination of the two? Do you prefer formal volunteering and philanthropy or every day ‘guerilla’ giving? Do you prefer to give in a strategic way for maximum positive impact and social change? Or do you prefer to give in a way in which you have the most connection, can see and be part of the positive change?


If you’re in a place where the giving pains you – something about it is forced, or you know you’ll be too worried about the money you pass along, or already feel the emptiness before you’ve given, you may not be ready to give. In this case, the best option may be to spend some time looking at what you need in your life that you’re not getting in as compassionate a way as possible. But if you’re even wavering a little bit, ponder what Peyton Conway March says, “There is a wonderful mythical law of nature that the three things we crave most in life – the happiness, freedom, and peace of mind – are always attained by giving them to someone else.” Give giving a try in small ways – it’s the small daily gifts that make all the difference.


Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s charity-based team building activities:

Military Salute – Teams build care packages to be given to soldiers stationed overseas.

Charity Wheelchair Build – Charity Wheelchair Build gets your team building wheelchairs to help disabled people stay independent in this charity team building activity.

Charity Roller Coaster –Design and build the world’s most exciting roller coaster and help kids learn about science.

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Chocolate Trivia

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Early Mexican history states that:

1. The cocoa bean was a gift from the Gods and forbidden to eat
2. Women were not allowed to eat cocoa, only men
3. Cocoa beans were used as money
4. Ground up cocoa beans were used to make flour 

Which country consumes the most chocolate per person per year?

1. United States
2. Switzerland
3. Belgium
4. France

In 1657 the first chocolate shop opened up in:

1. London
2. Vienna
3. Amsterdam
4. Brussels

Theobroma Caco is the scientific name for the cacao tree. When translated in Greek it means:

1. Warm Dark Fluid
2. Food of the Gods
3. Witch’s Brew
4. Brown Tree from Abroad

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is the title of:

1. A movie 
2. The book by Roald Dahl
3. Both of the above
4. Neither of the above

Before Gene Wilder was selected to play Willy Wonka, what legendary actor was considered?

1. Stan Laurel
2. Dick Van Dyke
3. Jack Lemmon
4. Fred Astaire

Who sang ‘A Spoonful of Sugar’?

1. Shirley Jones 
2. Debbie Reynolds 
3. Julie Andrews 
4. Deborah Kerr 

Godiva Chocolate comes from:

1. France
2. Switzerland
3. Belgium
4. England 

What candy had a pivotal role in a Seinfeld episode?

1. M & Ms 
2. Baby Ruth 
3. Reeses Pieces 
4. Junior Mints 

Kit Kat commercials in the 70s and 80s featured what animal?

1. A bear 
2. A lion 
3. A seal 
4. A dog 

What company created the first milk chocolate bar?

1. Cadbury
2. Nestle
3. Hershey
4. Borden’s

The largest Toblerone bar is:

1. 1 pound
2. 2 pounds 
3. 5 pounds 
4. 10 pounds 

Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s team building and team development activities:

Crossing Chocolate Bridges – What better way to hone communication skills than with chocolate?

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Quix Tip: The Growing Orbit of Giving


The poet Rainer Maria Rilke said, “I live my life in growing orbits.” The first orbit starts with the self. The next orbit might be those small generosities, the daily giving you can do for those around you.

What can you give to your co-workers, your family? What would they most appreciate? Your time? What’s the quality of your time – would they wish to see you relaxed, healthy and content and share that moment with you – then it may help you to give to yourself – whether it’s exercise, quiet time, time spent with friends and your community, whatever refreshes your batteries, in order to give what people would most like from you

The next orbit may be to help strangers, people you don’t know, to find a way to make even that connection feel like home. Pema Chodron recommends starting with what’s easiest, then moving incrementally to what’s harder. Ideally giving is for both you and the world. If it’s just one of those, then you’re missing something valuable.

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The Gift of Giving


Vincent Van Gogh said, “How can I be useful, of what service can I be? There is something inside me, what can it be?” There are 1.5 million charitable organizations in the US; there are 86,400 seconds in a day, and an infinite number of possible answers if we ask ourselves Van Gogh’s beautiful question. How best can we serve? What can we give?

When contemplating giving, it’s helpful to expand the horizons of what we may imagine giving to mean. Of course it includes formal giving, whether volunteering or philanthropy. But it also includes the countless opportunities each day (Hence the 86,400 seconds in a day statistic) we have to give informally to the people we know around us, give to ourselves and of ourselves, and to people and things in the larger world that we don’t know. We each have unique gifts and myriad opportunities to use and give them. The field of Emotional Intelligence tells us that emotions are contagious, so even each emotion we feel and express is a form of a gift. Giving is something we can do every day.

Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s charity-based team building activities:

Charity Bike Build – As featured on NPR!
Teams build bicycles for underserved children in their area.

Charity Wheelchair Build – Charity Wheelchair Build gets your team building wheelchairs to help disabled people stay independent in this charity team building activity.

Pack to School – Fill backpacks for kids in this fun charity team building activity.

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Pocket Poem: Daring Enough to Finish by Rumi


Daring Enough to Finish
By Rumi

Face that lights my face, you spin
intelligence into these particles

I am. Your wind shivers my tree.
My mouth tastes sweet with your name

in it. You make my dance daring enough
to finish. No more timidity! Let

fruit fall and wind turn my roots up
in the air, done with patient waiting.

(from The Glance, trans. Coleman Barks)

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Music Team Building Trivia Challenge

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Here are some fun music trivia questions from our Name That Tune team building program! Scroll down to find out the answers.
The Questions
  1. What song did the FBI determine is unintelligible at any speed?
  2. In which Madonna song were her vocals pitched up to make her sound younger? (She was 26 at the time.)
  3. What song was written after the lead singer and his friend, Marty Jones, got drunk at a bar and were too chicken to talk to a couple of girls (before the lead singer was famous)?
  4. What is the name of the duo featuring the brother of Dan Seals, who was “England Dan” of England Dan and John Ford Coley? What was their most popular song?
  5. What song made Eminem want to give up rapping?
  6. What was the orginal song from which Sesame Street made a version called “(I Can’t Get No) Cooperation” about a school kid who couldn’t find anyone to play jump rope or seesaw with?
  7. What song was used in commercials for Bud Light beer in the 90s, featuring 4 guys dressed up as women to take advantage of a promotion at a bar?
  8. What song was inspired by the German singer Nina Hagen, when the lead singer of the band came across one of her jackets that he liked? She insisted he take it, explaining that giving stuff away creates good energy.
  9. What song did this band’s record company not want on their album because they thought it was too long and that no radio station would play it?
The Answers
  1. Louie Louie by the Kingsmen
  2. Borderline
  3. Mr. Jones by Counting Crows
  4. Seals and Crofts, Summer Breeze
  5. Ice Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice
  6. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction by The Rolling Stones
  7. Ladies Night by Kool and the Gang
  8. Give It Away by Red Hot Chili Peppers
  9. Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd

Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s music team building activities:

Play the Blues – As featured on NPR and in The Meeting Professional 
Learn to play the blues harmonica in just two hours! Each team member will receive their own harmonica, a copy of Blues Harmonica for Beginners book and play-a-long CD. Within minutes you will be playing a real blues song together. The grand finale features your team as the stars performing an original blues song that you have created together!
Give the Kids Music – Learn to play and build musical instruments and then give the gift of music to underserved children.

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Get small, get calm, get happy with a purpose pause


If a problem, worry, or anxiety looms large, pause for a moment. Find a way to either tangibly savor something larger – take a walk in nature, talk to a loved one for example – or simply take this moment to fill yourself with appreciation for something bigger than yourself, wherever you are. Feel the larger space that is holding the current issue. Get right-sized.

Here are twelve ideas for you to get small, calm and happier. Pick one right now and try it.

  1. Nature
  2. Your breath
  3. Co-workers
  4. Family – mate and/or children
  5. Community – friends, neighbors
  6. Spirituality and religion
  7. Pets
  8. Meditation
  9. Big Time – geological time, glaciers, the time it takes for the stars to reflect the sun’s light, the time it takes for a tree to grow
  10. Realizing how often you’ve made it through something similar in the past
  11. Exercise
  12. Make something up

What usually helps you most? What will help you right now?

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Quix Picks: Anne of Green Gables

Laura began reading this wonderful book from by Lucy Maud Montgomery out loud to me when we visited Prince Edward Island in July and we’ve continued into the fall. Each chapter contains one of the orphan girl Anne’s many misadventures as she tries to make her way in life on rural PEI at the turn of the nineteenth century. This deeply feeling book alternates between humor, empathy and gentle heart to bring you (and Anne) to a better place. If you can’t convince a loved one to read it to you, try to get it as an audio book.

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The Journey To and From Home


“Sometimes it takes a journey to come home.” -Stephen Levine

Life can pull us away from the ‘home’ inside ourselves. The daily grind tends to keep us on one static level – roughly chest-high and above. The increasing speed of deadlines and demands, news, technology, advertising, traffic all seem to conspire to keep us hurtling faster through a cluttered life.

Journeys and vacations give us a way to cut through the increased complexity and speed, to slow down, enjoy simpler pleasures and reconnect with our internal home and source of energy and delight, what Yeats calls, “my deep heart’s core.”

“Our life is frittered away by detail… simplify, simplify.” -Henry David Thoreau 

The next time you travel, either for vacation or work, you may wish to take the opportunity to travel lightly. Time away from a complex and often messy life is a wonderful opportunity to live more simply for a few days. This simplicity, this little oasis of emptiness, holds within it the promise of being ‘found’ again. Here is an opportunity to return to yourself, your truest desires, your playfulness, your quietness. This is definitely easier to begin when away from the office, the home, the clutter and clanging of everyday life. In fact, research has shown that you’re more effective at changing a bad habit if you change your external situation at the same time.

“You and me Sunday driving, not arriving, spending someone’s hard earned pay…we’re on our way home.” – from Two of Us by the Beatles

Simple, humble pleasures may be more likely to renew – quietly sitting and watching the waves as they break over the shoreline vs. paragliding then jet-skiing then going out to restaurant after restaurant then…you get the idea.

Stripping your day down to what’s most important to you both invigorates and eases the heart. You may find yourself focusing more on connecting with your spouse, your kids, your health (going for a walk or a swim or stretching on the beach), your mind (reading a book, writing in a journal), your heart (watching those waves and breathing with them).

On your journey to and from home you may find yourself revisiting both the bigger picture and the smaller. You may see with fresh eyes what few things are vital and enduring as well as what gifts are waiting to be opened right in this very moment.

You may notice more connection with the others around you, more time to notice sweetness and a clearer focus on you (and not in the self-loathing way).  This giving yourself the best, allowing yourself to be at your best gives you a touchstone to refer to when you’re back at home and allows you to give your best to everyone whose lives you touch.

And you may reintroduce a confidence that can come only when you are at the helm of your ship, when you are steering the course. And then you can say, just as Walt Whitman did, “Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road, healthy, free, the world before me…henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune, henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing…strong and content I travel the open road.”

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Get small, get calm, get happy with purpose


Standing on the dock at night, I could hear, but not see, my friend Gabby returning on the paddleboard. My eyes hadn’t yet adjusted to the darkness. We exchanged places and out I paddled.

No wind, the water was utterly still. It was Sunday night and late in the season, very few lights from houses along the shore and only night crickets sounding. Quiet, slow dip of paddle in the water. The strongest stars seen in the sky only. Out to the middle – and turning back to the west…over the hemlocks – a waxing crescent moon hanging bright and low in the sky.

I felt very small among all of this openness, all this space. And it felt great. Freeing.

Whatever background concerns or worries my mind might have been chewing on unnoticed slid away into the dark water. I felt in that moment ‘right sized’ – what the poet Mary Oliver calls, “your place in the family of things.” This is the power of purpose – an opportunity to get ‘right-sized’.

The links between self-absorption and depression are now well documented scientifically. But it’s not just depression. Dr. Leon Seltzer says, “From a variety of phobic, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive impairments, to many depressive disturbances (including bipolar disorder), to various addictions, to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and to most of the personality disorders, self-absorption can be seen as playing a major (if not dominant) role.”

When we’re anxiously peering in, each problem appears vast. What other size could it be? We aren’t able to get the benefit of connecting with something larger than ourselves to ‘right-size’. And we’re not able to give our best to a world that needs it so sorely now.

Instead, what we need most in moments of anxiety is space. Connecting with something larger provides that space.

I probably spent no more than 20 minutes out on the lake that night. Yet weeks later, I can immediately feel its calming, centering ‘rightness’ that helps temper my perspective even as I write these words. A small time investment, a huge payoff.

Here’s to you cutting through your background noise. And here’s to you finding the peace and connectedness that a right-sized perspective and larger space provides, right her, right now.

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