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Over the past few months, I’ve been thinking a lot about the relationships in my life. It doesn’t matter the sort – whether romantic, friendly or the relationships I have within my family – I’ve been consumed with analyzing the way I interact with and connect to others. In the process, I’ve grown a bit concerned. In these relationships, which are so important to my happiness and mental well-being, have I brought everything that I can to the table? In short, am I giving as much of myself as I can to the critical relationships in my life?

I started to worry more about this as I began realizing just how wonderful people can be. There are so many people in my life – many of whom are in the Academy – that have complete and utter generosity underlying every fiber of their being. By that, I mean that they could go on and on talking about themselves and their lives – and it would be deserved – but at the end of the day, they would put that aside and be there for me. They will open themselves – both physically and metaphorically – and wrap me in a huge hug, listen to what I have to say, and simply be present with me in that moment. They may have their own stuff going on, or they may be super busy, but they’ll always drop everything for me, and give all that they can to help me be the person I want to be. They are patient, understanding, loving, and empathetic, and that all truly amazes me.

I really love the idea of generosity that I mentioned earlier. Generosity of heart, generosity of spirit, and generosity of love. In reflecting on the relationships in my life, I want to strive to be a more generous soul. I want loving others to be the central focus of my life – that’s not to say that it hasn’t always been that way, but I don’t think I remember it enough on a day-to-day basis. I want to be there for people so wholly and completely that they feel as though they can come to me at any time and know that I will be present with them in that moment.

I think this generosity requires a great deal of vulnerability. In a way, it requires a willingness to put your heart out there and let it overflow for others. Sometimes, people may take advantage of that, perhaps even judge you for it. But more often than not, I think it can inspire generosity in others.

When I look up synonyms for generosity right here in Word, the word “openhandedness” immediately jumps out to me. I think that it really helps to elucidate the meaning of this seemingly simplistic term that truly carries so much meaning for me. With generosity, you open your hand to let what’s inside out and share it with others. At the same time, you make the act reciprocal. With your open hand you take someone else’s and embark on a journey with them to wherever it is they need to go at that moment.

Maybe what I’m talking about here seems a bit too philosophical. However, I think that we can easily extend this principle to leadership. Generous leaders make their work more than a job. In the process, they care about others, foster relationships, and work side-by-side with their peers, rather than over top of them, to make both their life’s work and that of their colleagues more valuable and fulfilling. I’m not necessarily advocating that every job be a love fest, but rather that we remember our mutual humanity, and choose to personalize the mundane aspects of our life to create opportunities for connection.

Ultimately, I believe that we as leaders have the opportunity to lead intellectually, professionally and spiritually. The last of those categories, however, seems to be the most important to me.  If we can’t be there for one another or count on others to be there for us, is any of the rest worth it in the end? Of course, that’s for you to decide. But I know what my choice is.

So, if any of you are ever looking for someone to talk to about literally anything, please let me know. I’d love to practice generosity with you : )