Building Social Capital

by Matt | 1 Year Sabbatical on November 25, 2010

Build Social Capital by Helping OthersAs those of us in the United States are celebrating Thanksgiving I wanted to take a moment to highlight the things that I believe are truly important in life; the things we should be thankful for.  As we enter the Holiday season it’s easy to get distracted by the flood of consumerism and advertising that inundate our senses. To combat that I wanted to share a poem I ran across written by Donna Maris. This poem really inspired me and I hope it will do the same for you.

Ready or not, some day my Life will end.
There will be no more sunrises, days, hours or minutes.
No more cell phones or calls and mail to be returned.
Every thing I will have collected, be it treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else.
My wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what I owned or what I was owed.
My grudges, resentments, frustrations, and jealousies will finally disappear.
So will my hopes, ambitions, plans, and To Do List: All will expire with me.
The wins and losses that once seemed so important to me, will fade away.
It won’t matter where I was born or what side of the tracks have I lived.
It won’t matter if I rented, or owned a house or lived on a boat.
It won’t matter whether I was clever, beautiful or brilliant.
My gender, skin color, ethnicity will be irrelevant.
So what WILL matter?
What will be the measure of my days, weeks and years passed?
How will my life be valued?
What will matter is not what I bought, but what I have chosen to build.
Not what I received, but what I have shared and given you.
What will matter is not the level of my success, but my significance.
What will matter is not what I learned, but what I have taught.
What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage and sacrifice that enriched, empowered or encouraged others to emulate from my example.
What will matter is not my competence, but my integrity and character; my true grit.
What will matter is not how many people I have known, rich or poor;
But how many will feel a lasting loss when I am gone.
What will matter are not my faded memories,
But the memories of those who knew and have loved me.
What will matter is how long I will be remembered, by whom, and for a
kaleidoscope of reasons, like a brilliant rainbow.
Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident.

It’s not a matter of circumstance.
It is one made of choice; one of my own choosing.

And in so doing, I dance and write my name with Destiny.
I CHOOSE to live a life that matters.

~ Donna Maris

I like this poem.  It emphasizes the things that really matter in life.  Building physical capital will not be a long lasting and fulfilling legacy.  What we need to be building is social/relationship capital.  Building social capital is what living a life that matters is all about.

How does one build social capital?  By personally investing in the people you meet.  Take a heart-felt interest in everyone that you interact with, be it in person or online or a stranger on the street.  Make an effort to build and nurture true friendships.  Help people when you can.  Sacrifice to make a difference.  Volunteer in your community.  Be an active participant in your life and the lives of those around you.

I’ve had the great privilege to meet some extraordinary people who are doing some incredible things.  People like Ivan Campuzano, Joel Runyon, Mark Powers, Sean Ogle, Lily Leung, Srinivas Rao, Wes Nations and so many more amazing people.  As an introvert I haven’t always been good at building social capital.  It does take a personal investment.  But it’s an investment that pays itself forward in so many good ways. Let’s build that social capital together and get out there and work together to make a real difference in the world.

Since we are expressing gratitude I’ll tell you what am I am thankful for.  I’m thankful for my family; my wife and two boys.  They are the best thing that has happened to me.  I’m thankful for all the incredible people I have met through this blog.  I’m thankful for those of you who invest a bit of yourself in reading what I write.  I’m truly grateful for your personal investment.  If you haven’t connected with me yet I’d love to hear from you.  Share your dreams and aspirations and how we can work together to make it happen.  I’m looking forward to connecting with you.

Are you choosing to live a life that matters?  Are you building social capital?  What are you thankful for today?

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah Wu November 25, 2010 at 1:53 am

Great post! I’m thankful for everything in my life!
Sarah Wu recently posted..Photos- A Glimpse of Hollywood- The Entertainment Capital


matt November 25, 2010 at 2:28 am

Hi Sarah! I’m so thankful to have connected with you. Hope you have a fantastic Thanksgiving!


Sarah Wu November 25, 2010 at 3:08 am

Yup going to have a great thanksgiving with my family tommorow. My dad is coming down from Albany to New York City (quite long drive) to see us 😉
Sarah Wu recently posted..Photos- A Glimpse of Hollywood- The Entertainment Capital


matt November 25, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Every time I hear Albany I think Albany Oregon. Enjoy the time with family Sarah!


Sarah Wu November 27, 2010 at 7:32 am

Haha I didn’t know there is a Albany in Oregon. Thanks we had a great time.
Sarah Wu recently posted..My Thanksgiving Dinner at Corner 28

Gillian November 25, 2010 at 11:01 am

As an introvert I, too, struggle with ‘getting out there’ but I believe in making connection. Certainly the on line nature of social media makes it easier…we’ll see how it goes when I head to my first un-convention next year! It’s been nice to connect with you…thank you! Cheers!
Gillian recently posted..Managing Your Money- On The Road


matt November 25, 2010 at 1:52 pm

Hi Gillian, I hope this means we’ll get to meet at WDS in Portland. I’ve had the great pleasure to make some great friendships online that have translated into great meetups in person. It is tough to step out at times. I’ve got some friends that tend to push me outside my comfort zone which is good for me. I actually acted in a skit this past Sunday on stage in front of 100’s of people. And I’m still alive!


Andrea November 27, 2010 at 10:16 pm

Great post and provocative question! I think that one thing a person can do to build social capital (and this may be an easier one for introverts) is to work on him/herself and immediate situation. Those old adages that you have to love yourself before you can love someone else, charity begins at home, etc. I think it’s wonderful when people are at the point where they can reach out and give to the world around them, but it is also important for a person to know herself and get things right in her own situation if they aren’t. Then they really will be able to give more to others. It’s something a lot of people overlook. I don’t know you, so this isn’t directed at you specifically at all =) but I wanted to share it as a thought, since you asked


matt November 30, 2010 at 2:41 am

Hi Andrea! I think you make a very good point. You really have to first look after yourself and make sure you are in a position to help others before you really can. This is both a financial as well as an emotional position. Each of us will have different levels that we need to be at before we feel comfortable with this. One thing I can think of right off the bat on this is debt. If you are in debt your top priority should be paying that off first and getting your head above water. I really like what you are saying here but I also think that there are so many little things that we can do that don’t take any money or emotional investment. Simply lending an ear to a stranger that needs to speak can go a long way. Thanks for your thoughtful comment. Sometimes we lose ourselves in our desire to help others.


Mary R November 29, 2010 at 2:35 am

This is a fantastic inspiring post, Matt! I try to live those same sentiments every day of my life… thanks for the great reminder!
Mary R recently posted..10 Reasons To Be Thankful for Travel


matt November 30, 2010 at 2:45 am

Thanks Mary! I’m glad you enjoyed it. Hope to see you this next year in Bali.


Joel Runyon November 29, 2010 at 1:51 pm

Great post Matt.
I’ve had a great time getting to know you over the past few months and I’m thankful for your encouragement. Thanks Matt!


matt November 30, 2010 at 2:49 am

Hey Joel! It’s been a real blessing getting to know you as well. Your blog is filled with all kinds of inspiration and motivation. Looking forward to meeting up in June at WDS. Thanks for popping your head over here.


Jasmine December 5, 2010 at 10:16 am

That’s a beautiful poem. And you’re right, our focus should be on investing in people and experiences, not in things.
Jasmine recently posted..Is Quito Safe


matt December 7, 2010 at 1:48 am

Thanks Jasmine! So many great people like yourself out there doing incredible things.


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