Share the Wealth You Have

Dwight, Mabel, Artist. Barnyard / Mabel Dwight. , 1939. Photograph.

We all possess or have access to a wealth of skills, resources, and knowledge. Some of our skills, resources, and knowledge relate to our responsibilities in our home, at work, and in our community which may be readily identified or assumed by others we interact with on a regular basis or who observe us on any given day. For example, the results of my wife’s artistic and creative abilities can be seen covering our living room walls and hallway. Other skills and knowledge, however, are not always apparent because they are not put to use every day in particular contexts or no longer relevant. For example, the last time I witnessed my wife’s ability to hit a home run was on one of our first dates to a batting cage. (It was impressive!) In both cases, the value of such skills and knowledge is underestimated and not consistently shared with others. Making a bit more of an effort to share our skills and knowledge with others can tremendously help us cultivate and compound our personal, family, and community wealth over time. To get started sharing, consider the following steps.

Step 1: Remember that you already know how to share

Do you remember as a kid in primary school when you wanted to join a game but did not know the rules? You just asked if you could play and either a teacher or another kid shared the rules with you so that you could join in the fun. From that simple act of sharing, you not only gained knowledge about how to play the game and a bit of fun out on the play yard that day, but you also acquired opportunities to share that information with your friends wanting to join the game in the future. By participating in the game and sharing your knowledge, opportunities were for you to connect with and build your relationship with the other kids playing that game on that day and many other days in the future. If you could share as a kid and continue to recognize and value the benefits of sharing as you grow older, then there is no reason why you cannot share what you have to offer with others now. And if you have forgotten how to share, go find a kid you know and have them show you how again.

Parks, Gordon, photographer. Washington, D.C. Pouring lemonade at a birthday party on Seaton Road.
United States Washington D.C. District of Columbia Washington D.C, 1942. June. Photograph.

Step 2: Invest in sharing now to enable the benefits to compound over time 

The compounding effects of sharing can be exponential over time if you actively share the wealth you possess with others. Whether it is money, a car, advice, or time, we all have something to share that can have outsized returns on our initial investments that we cannot always anticipate. For example, many years ago a member of our family was going through a difficult period of life which could not be easily remedied. At the time all my wife and I had to offer was our time and love which was very much appreciated by this family member. Fast-forward to the Summer of 2020 during the height of the pandemic when my wife, 4 young children, and I were unexpectedly forced to move back to the US with no job prospects, no immediate access to housing for a family of 6, and a healthy amount of uncertainty about what life had in store for us. Comparatively, that same family member we had shared our time and love with was in a much better situation than we were at that time and offered the love, sympathetic ear, and monetary assistance for basic food and housing costs that we needed. At the time, what was shared helped us to survive for about a year until the economy opened back up and I could secure employment. 

There was no way of knowing that our initial investment of time and love would yield so much return for us when we needed it most, even after accounting for the money we paid back to the family member. I share the above story to illustrate that cultivating wealth of one type over time can yield exponential returns of a different kind of wealth when you least expect it. If you continue to take those returns and reinvest them by sharing your wealth with others, I guarantee that you will see your wealth grow for yourself and those around you well beyond your initial investments. Remember, however, that this compounding effect of the reinvestments of the wealth that you have to give requires regular effort to cultivate over time. 

Step 3: Cultivate a habit of sharing

Opportunities to share wealth can be consciously planned in advance or built into your daily lives. Planned opportunities include family gatherings during the holidays or festivals celebrated in your local community. Personal and public gatherings are great times to check-in with family, friends, and other people you know to find out about what is new in their lives and how things are going. As we take time to catch up with one another, pay attention to what is being shared. Maybe you can learn from your cousins about how to secure employment or your aunt’s trick for extending the bloom of Summer flowers. Other times, you may find that your skills in sewing or expertise in college admissions could benefit someone who is learning to sew or applying to an out-of-state university. Even if what is being shared by you or someone else is not relevant now, it may be to you or someone you know later on. In the end, the important thing is to participate in the sharing that takes place during personal and public gatherings so that you and others can all benefit from the experience.

Two Women Making Braided Rugs on Porch. , None. [Between 1925 and 1930?] Photograph.

If you are unsure about how to get sharing opportunities started in your daily life, consider the following two suggestions that are beyond the typical sharing that occurs during meal times and staff meetings or among parents while waiting to pick their kids up from school.      

Mending Evenings – Winter months are a great time to sow on bottoms missing from shirts and coats, mend ripped seams, and darn socks. Each of these tasks requires skills that use to be consciously passed down and practiced across generations, but are unfortunately not done as often today. Having these skills can both reduce the amount of money you may think you need to spend on replacing clothing every year, as well as improve or sustain your hand-eye coordination at any age.  

Puzzles – Anytime of year, every time we take a puzzle out in our home everyone takes an active interest in completing it. In our household, everyone does their bit to put a puzzle together: the young kids sort pieces by color or those with straight edges, while the older kids and adults focus on putting particular sections together. Puzzles are healthy, stimulating fun for the brain and people of all ages. Additionally, I find that people also talk with each other in a relaxed manner without an agenda or the pressure to respond immediately. During these conversations, all kinds of topics can be covered and bonds can be strengthened.

Step 4…

The next step is up to you. We all have something to share with each other, but sharing the wealth we have with others requires individual effort. So what are you waiting for? Start building and compounding wealth for yourself and those around you by finding or creating sharing opportunities today. And if you cannot find anyone to share your wealth with, just get in touch with me; I will be happy to receive the wealth you have to share with others. 

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