Yet another book that I can appreciate, but feel went a little heavy-handed with the dependence on religion to explain things. This was thinly veiled parable about Chik-fil-A and it’s founder’s story (they do finally acknowledge this in the afterward, but I wish it were more upfront). I found it on a list of best books to read for fundraisers and thats why I read it.
As with the numerous Mormon authors I’ve read I had some issues with this book because of one of the authors’ standpoints on social issues, or at least their company at one point. S. Truett Cathy, mostly his family, as the founder of Chik-fil-A, has contributed hundreds-of-thousands of dollars to anti-LGBT organizations. I think the problem for me is that they were so vocal about it for such a time period. Is this problematic to me? Yes. Did it stop me from reading the book or from eating at Chik-fil-A? No.
There was one section that made me laugh because it talked about double standards:
“There’s a big difference between held values and operational values. held values are what people say. Operational values are what people do. How many times have you been disappointed by someone who talked a good game—’family values,’ for example—but whose personal life reflected an entirely different set of operational values?” (60)
It’s the whole idea of loving one’s neighbors as they love their children and themselves, but only so far as if they’re white, heterosexual, monogamously coupled and productive members of society.
Your beliefs are your beliefs. However, when you become vitriolic about it or you automatically disqualify someone from your support because of something like sexual orientation, then it becomes problematic. That being said, Cathy was an incredibly business man and taking out the religion of the book there’s some great life advice on how to be happy and to live a prosperous and successful life.
Knowing who Cathy was going into the book definitely gave me a head’s up I wasn’t going to be that impressed with at least some portions of the book, especially the religious aspect, but it was an interesting and useful read. The reminders of how to engage a community were poignant.
Overall, however, the “God” part wasn’t too much to handle, but there was an example that made me really nod my head because it just made sense and was an apt 21st century simile for God and the individual as a palm-pilot (cell phone) and desktop computer:
“That’s exactly the way our hearts synchronize with God. He ‘downloads’ His information — through His message in the Bible, through our inborn consciences, and through the influence of others. We upload our information to Him through prayer, through lives of service and through generosity. It’s a two-way deal, too.” (107)
It was just a different way of looking at it.
Really, overall what I took away from this was if you want to be a better person you have to put more into your family and your community. If you want to, you can put all that into God and religion, but in reality you don’t have to because it’s all about what you give through your time, touch, talent and treasure.
Recommendation: If religion and thinly veiled parables don’t bother you than check out this book. Even if they do bother you, there are great lessons (that have been passed down in all religions and through all fables) on how to live a happy, healthy and prosperous life regardless of your financial affluence.
Opening Line: “There’s a saying of Jesus—reportedly, more than two thousand years old—that goes like this: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”
Closing Line: “” (Not whited out as this is a work of nonfiction.)
Additional Quotes from The Generosity Factor
“‘We believe in a highly collaborative work environment,’ the Executive’s Assistant said. ‘That could never happen if we conducted our business behind closed doors. Everyone here knows what’s going on in the other departments. We all have access to the kinds of information that many companies try to keep from their employees. That helps us understand that our individual contributions do have a significant impact.'” (40)
“Some people think of generosity as an event. They get behind some cause and participate in an annual fund drive. When their big splash is over, it’s back to business as usual. But generosity is an attitude. It has to be cultivated daily.” (51-52)
“To understand Moderation, you have to understand extremism. Extremists care about only one thing. Making money is one example. Giving everything away is another. Neither pursuit yields any meaningful results. Extremists who only want to make money benefit only themselves. Extremists who chose to give it all away can’t generate anything new to give in the future. Extremists caught up in either trap have no time for spouses, families, friends or relaxation. Moderation means that you balance it all in order to benefit all.” (56)