« Leadership is Measured by Followership | Main | What You Expect Steers How You Lead »

Dec 7
Christmas Gifts, Serotonin and Business Blessings

The holiday season is almost here ... business is winding down for a break ... and some leaders give back to show their gratitude while their gifts inspire the rest of us to go after another good year.

 

Have you noticed how the most powerful leaders slip in from behind often, and give to ensure that others win? The 2006 holiday season held this trait up to the rainbow recently,  when one business leader exposed a lifetime secret of giving.   Kansas City residents tried for 26 years, unsuccessfully, to identify their Secret Santa, who turned out to be Larry Stewart, a wealthy 58 year old business man. Larry’s handouts of $100 bills to people down on their luck - came from a personal experience when his own luck ran out and he ended up living in a car.larry%20stewart%203.jpg

 

Check out the stories at CBC Radio and Staulkvalley.com to see how it all started when Larry lost his job and stopped into a diner for breakfast after two days without food. He claimed to have lost his wallet when the check came. Suddenly the diner’s owner came to his table, stuffed a $20 in Larry’s hand, and asked… “Drop this?”

 

In 1979, and after he’d landed work, Larry handed a young waitress a $20 at a car hop and her tears of gratitude “almost ripped his heart out,” he told reporters 26 years later. The serotonin that shot through Larry’s brain through that handout - brought him to the bank for $200 in $5s and $20s, and the Secret Santa drove around looking for people who could use a break.

 

Eventually reporters caught up, and Larry had them swear to keep his anonymity, through what amounted to handouts that totaled $1.3 million - to strangers in need during Decembers. The neuro and cognitive sciences tell that whenever we give to others, we increase the serotonin hormone for well-being in our own brains.Larry%20Stewart%204.jpg

An organic neurotransmitter, serotonin enhances our health, holds back stress, raises the immune system, as well as helps memory, moods and sleep. What’s equally as impressive, those who observe or receive our kindness,  often experience similar shots of serotonin that bring that added euphoria mixed into giving.

 

Sadly, after 26 years of serotonin benefits, this year Larry faces a recent diagnosis of cancer and he decided to tell his story as a way to inspire others to give when he is gone. His life inspires us to try a few random acts of kindness of our own over this holiday season.

I think I’ll  adopt Larry’s  anonymity and my own creativity at my business center- because the Secret Santa  showed how serotonin, and holiday handouts  - bring their own rewards. How about you?

 


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