Maggie Alston grew up in the foster care system. While never sexually abused, she was abused in every other way imaginable. In spite of letting her situation lead to a life of bitterness, she made a vow that she would make a difference in the lives of others. And she did.
Maggie was an incredibly successful entrepreneur. She founded a placement agency with a focus on helping women acquire jobs that fully utilized their talents. Her agency was nationwide and highly respected by employers. A part of her business included educational programming and career mentoring. Over time, Maggie created a network of career ambassadors who were committed to working with her in finding positions for women who normally would not be given the opportunity. Maggie was referred to in the business press as the Oprah Winfrey of the placement industry for her financial wealth and passion.
Maggie’s special calling was working with women who had been in prison and released.
These women struggled with finding a job where they could support their children. Most of them needed a new beginning so their children would not be placed back into the foster care system.
Maggie was a personal mentor to these women. Every month, Maggie would bring together a new group of women who were released from prison. She provided support in the job search process. She provided them with proper clothing. She helped them start living a healthy life. She also did evaluations to determine suitable career possibilities for them. This included financial support for acquiring the latest skills needed for the careers they wanted to pursue.
But what really made the program work was a unique year long program in developing habits of virtue. Maggie had the ability to motivate those she worked with to live purposeful lives.
Maggie’s alumni had careers that were quite remarkable. But for Maggie, the real reward was not just the success that her alumni had achieved, but the successes of their children.
Think of the joy that comes from giving hope to others. Maggie could have lived a life of bitterness based upon her own upbringing. But she turned bitterness into joy. Bitterness is as toxic as any poison. Bitterness can turn to joy with a generosity of spirit.
There is a difference between generosity and generosity of spirit. Generosity is the giving of financial and other assets to those in need. Generosity of spirit is generosity, but the giving in this case also involves a personal commitment to those receiving the gifts. Generosity can be thought of as being transactional (i.e. the transfer of gifts from one to others). Generosity of spirit is transformational (i.e. the use of gifts to transform the lives of both those receiving the gifts and those giving the gifts. The lives of those receiving the gifts from Maggie were obviously changed but so too was Maggie’s. Generosity of spirit has another purpose – creating a network of joy.
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“It’s not the depth of your intellect that will comfort you or transform your world. Only the richness of your heart and your generosity of spirit can do that.” Rasheed Ogunlaru (business and executive coach)