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Those Giving More

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His car was 100% immaculate. His clothes were 100% pressed. His closet was 100% organized. At the office he was 100% work. At home he was 100% husband and dad. From religion to relationships to reading a book, everything was 100%.

My dad, Chubby, was the epitome of an “all in” person – never unclear, uncommitted, or “kinda sorta” about anything.

He built a 350 agent real estate firm in Cincinnati, Ohio from scratch. He started it after he returned from WWII, in which he served as a fighter pilot instructor. He trained his real estate agents like he trained pilots before battle… if you weren’t 100% prepared, you might end up 0% alive. 

While building his business, there was one person who was as 100% as he was – his office janitor, Aaron Greenlee. At the age of 12 Chubby told me I could earn extra money by helping Aaron clean the office. I thought, “piece of cake.” Little did I know that experience would become one of the defining moments of my life.

My first assignment was polishing cherry paneling and toe stripping. I worked an entire Saturday morning and shined up every square inch. I was confident Aaron would be impressed and tell Dad I should get a bonus! 

Just before lunch Aaron checked my work. “Not bad,” he said, “but not that good.” Was he kidding?! Unfortunately not. Aaron began pointing out spots I missed. They were almost invisible to me. I’m sure he could tell I was irritated, so Aaron said, “Greg, it’s time for you to go home.”

Mad and hurt, I called Mom to pick me up. That night at dinner I expected Chubby to say something about my work, but he didn’t. After dinner he said, “Greg, hop in the car, we’re going for a drive.” 

When we pulled into the parking lot I had an uneasy feeling. Aaron’s car was there. As we walked in, Aaron had a giant smile on his face and exclaimed (no kidding, this is word for word) “Greg, when most people are done,” and Dad chimed back, “Our work has just begun!” We didn’t get home until after midnight. 

That night I learned the 100% Rule.

It means there is no give and take…there is only give. From business to relationships, you are either 100% all in or all out. 

100% Married

A couple years ago I married the love of my life, Teresa. During our courtship we had a conversation about the 100% Rule. I told Teresa that I didn’t believe in give-and-take relationships. To me, we’re either all in or all out.

I told her, “I will demonstrate my unconditional love for you by helping, encouraging, inspiring, and doing my best to make life a joy for you every day, and I will expect absolutely nothing in return.”

My view of the 100% Rule as applied to relationships (marriage, friends, family, business partners) is if you give 100% over and over and people disappoint you, tell them. If people hurt you, tell them.

But never temper the way you help and support them, including the excitement and adoration in your voice when you speak with them.

But there is a caution…

Being 100% committed doesn’t mean being 100% foolish. Some people are simply takers. The more you give, the more they take… and gladly.

The power of The 100% Rule is that it inspires givers to be better givers, and sometimes converts takers into givers. But it also reveals the takers who keep taking when others keep giving. 

If after giving at 100% and expressing your feelings that the taker keeps taking and nothing changes, the solution is easy…100% goes to 0% and it’s time to politely say goodbye.

Do you want to have better relationships? Follow Chubby’s advice…be 100% in or 100% out.

You will inspire givers to be more giving. You will convert some takers into givers. And you will identify the takers in your life who are incapable of change. 

You may end up with fewer relationships, but they will be better relationships. 

“Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.” -H. Jackson Brown, Jr.