In finance, we use the term ROI, which stands for Return on Investments; i.e. growing monetary wealth. Recently, I was introduced to the term ROL, Return on Life. This new acronym is about improving one’s happiness by helping others.
My parents demonstrated the gift of giving to me at an early age, and brought my siblings and I along during the holidays when they would deliver food baskets to individuals and families in need. The food was donated by organizations my parents belonged to. About the time I turned thirteen, my father started a charitable Christmas dinner for individuals in need, or those that might have had to eat their Christmas dinner alone. The dinner was hosted at the local Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall, and served by volunteers, which included my siblings and I. This turned out to be a humbling experience, as I witnessed attendees who looked embarrassed or ashamed to be alone, in financial need, or both. Their heads were held low, shoulders slumped, and they tried not to make eye contact with anyone, including others sitting at their table. My father quickly picked up on the somber atmosphere and began going from table to table creating small talk and introducing everyone to each other. Before long you would have thought that these people were lifelong friends, and the noise of laughter and Christmas Carols filled the hall.
At 4:00 pm the event ended. Attendees slowly and reluctantly filed out of the hall. It was now time for my siblings and I to go home to open our Christmas presents and enjoy our mother’s cooking; something we looked forward to all day. But a special thing happened upon opening the last gift. I suddenly realized, as did my siblings, that the best gift all day was knowing how we had helped make a difference in someone else’s life. The payback for us was an increase in ROL (Return on Life).
This month I turn 60, and as a way to honor my parent’s philanthropic teachings, I am planning to do 60 good deeds over the next 12 months. I am calling this venture 60 for 60! Along with my wife Mary, Lisa Russell, and Bernie Echo, I invite you to be an accountability partner, to help me fulfill this endeavor of helping others.
ROI is important; however, ROL is more important!