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981921190_d4ccc8ddcc_zA Scrooge story for the season.  Who says lawyers don’t have a heart?  Read on, MacDuff.

The Salvation Army realized that it had never received a donation from the city’s most successful lawyer.    So a volunteer paid the lawyer a visit to his lavish office just before Christmas.

The volunteer opened the meeting by saying, “Our research shows that even though your annual income is over two million dollars, you don’t give a penny to charity.  Wouldn’t you like to give something back to your community?… ”

The lawyer thinks for minute and says, “First, did your research also show you that my mother is dying after a long, painful illness, and she has huge medical bills that are far beyond her ability to pay?”

Embarrassed, the rep mumbles, “Uh…No, I didn’t know that.”

“Secondly,” says the lawyer, “did it show that my brother, a disabled veteran, is blind and confined to a wheelchair and is unable to support his wife and six children?”

The stricken rep begins to stammer an apology, but is cut off again.

“Thirdly, did your research also show you that my sister’s husband died in a dreadful car accident, leaving her penniless with a mortgage and three children, one of whom is disabled and another that has learning disabilities requiring an array of private tutors?”

The humiliated rep, completely beaten, says, “I’m so sorry.  I had no idea.”

And the lawyer says, “So, if I didn’t give any money to them, what makes you think I’d give any to you?”

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Tim AskewEleemosynary. It’s one of my favorite words that almost no one knows the meaning of. It’s a word that will stump almost every spelling bee champion. It derives from the Greek “elos” meaning compassion and “eleemosyne” meaning alms. In contemporary terms eleemosynary means “relating to charity or charity donations.”

We’re approaching a new year, a time for new thoughts and new plans aborning. Yet I find myself looking back this week. And, as usual, I wish I’d been more efficacious at embodying the eleemosynary values I believe in and trumpet. The litany of little omissions and sins could lead me into a veritable orgy of self-recriminations. Ah, hypocrisy. However, as always, I try to post about practical concerns of entrepreneurship and salesmanship. And, I guess, thereby, write about everything else, too.

The truth is that an eleemosynary entrepreneur is ultimately more selfish than competitors driven only by desire for lucre or personal aggrandizement. Almost all religious faiths bespeak this basic verity, most notably Buddhism in its doctrine of Karma. Personally I am a kind of weak-kneed Christian. I attend church consistently to discipline the habit of focusing for an hour a week on what is of ultimate value. Hopefully this commitment has at least a faint echo in my business actions during the week. Gandhi famously said we must embody the change we wish to see in the world. Oh, dear. I seem to be falling short.

Nevertheless, my belief is that generous giving, both of the spirit and of finances, is ultimately the most selfish of actions. My deepest hope for my company Corporate Rain International is that it institutionally embody the selfishness of deep kindness, unsentimental compassion, and communicated grace for all it touches. Including myself.

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