20 Years of the Spirit of Generosity in Action

Spirit of Generosity

2020 is a special year around here at Genuine Contact.  We’re celebrating 20 years of working together internationally in our community of practice. And I couldn’t be more proud.

When I reflect back on what has made these 20 years possible, it comes down to a simple formula. Inviting collective wisdom plus a spirit of generosity.

Collective Wisdom

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” is a maxim attributed to Aristotle. And it’s certainly true when describing collective wisdom. If you ask 10 people the same question, you will likely get 10 different answers.  If you bring those same 10 people together ask them a question and require them to get to one agreed upon answer, that one answer will be more comprehensive and more brilliant than those 10 individual answers ever can be.

We have worked intentionally to develop a life nurturing culture where ideas are welcome and collective wisdom is encouraged. As an international organization, we have been pioneers in online collaboration – both in real-time conversations through distance meeting facilitation as well as in asynchronous collaboration through email and other mediums. Paying attention to creating conditions for learning and dialogue with the belief that people are precious.  When people are engaged and feel valued, collective wisdom is tapped into most easily.

The Spirit of Generosity

Although it wasn’t explicitly done, looking back it is clear that Genuine Contact was founded on a spirit of generosity. From its beginnings, Birgitt Williams and Ward Williams set up Genuine Contact generously. After the first Train the Trainer in September 2001, they invited all Trainers to continue to develop Genuine Contact collaboratively. They hosted annual meetings of Trainers to support this collaboration. In those early days of technology connecting us around the world, they said yes when 2 Trainers suggested communication via a listserv in between these annual gatherings.

From 2001 to now, every milestone in our history shows this spirit of generosity. People have volunteered thousands of hours in developing projects, mentoring each other, and leading our organization. Financial requirements for maintaining the program and growing an international organization have been met through contributions from our members. And often when new members join us they say that they have been so touched by the generosity of Genuine Contact that they felt it important to become a member to give back in some measure for all they have received.

Magic Happens When You Combine Them

When you combine these 2 ingredients, alchemy always happens. Suddenly you have a pile of gold in front of you and you don’t even know quite how it got there.

Someone has an idea and the alchemy begins. Because we have created a culture where ideas are valued, that idea gets shared. Collective wisdom begins to swirl. Others build on the idea, adding their perspective. Innovation happens as new possibilities are explored. Adding that spirit of generosity to the mix, people who feel excited about the growing idea put up their hands to say “yes, I can help with this.”

Before you know it, a golden treasure is created.

Countless treasures have been created this way.  All through the collective wisdom and spirit of generosity that the Genuine Contact community has to offer. I’m looking forward to sharing some of these generous contributions with you throughout the year as we celebrate GC202020.


Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash


  • Rachel Bolton

    Rachel Bolton is the Director of the Genuine Contact Program and Organization. She is also a Senior Consultant at Dalar International Consultancy. Rachel specializes in supporting small business, team and project start-up with a focus on building solid foundations for long-term success. Visit her website to learn more.

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