It’s hard sometimes to choose a gift. You want to get the right thing that’s within your budget. If you don't know the person well, you struggle in one way, and if you know the person very well, you struggle in another way.
At the beginning of a new year, gift exchanges are going on everywhere. So, you want your gift to stand out and be several things at once.
- Thoughtful: It shows that you care.
- Relevant: It’s meaningful to the recipient.
- Timely: It's something they can use now.
- Special: Your gift stands out from the crowd.
You want this all to be within your budget. And everybody else giving a gift is thinking along the same lines.
So, why not change the criteria a bit and see what happens? Think of a gift that will "extend the canvas" of the recipient. Let me explain.
We all have a canvas of life on which we create our “art,” our contribution to the world. Our mental canvas limits the scope of what we can do. This is our playground and whatever we do will be on this playground.
Without realizing it, we set boundaries for our canvas. Over time, the boundaries become real and you can't see beyond them. Extending the canvas even a bit increases the richness in our lives as it opens up new worlds of possibilities.
When V. Suresh hired me as a journalist for a local newspaper in 1983, I was 13. It was a big leap of faith on his part because journalism was not even remotely on my canvas.
The opportunity changed my life in more ways than I could imagine. It was more than a chance to write for the newspaper. Over the next four years, it gave me a platform from which to think, form an opinion and take a stand on issues. All of that has helped me in tremendously as an entrepreneur.
A couple of years ago, I met Dan Roam, author of Back of the Napkin, at an 800-CEO-Read event. We were talking about drawing, and I told him I was bad at it. I believed that I could never draw, ever. Dan said that everyone could draw and showed me a few simple techniques.
By the end of that meeting, Dan had successfully extended my canvas. So much so that I started a site called Sparktastic. I ultimately created ThinkBook, a hybrid of a luxury notebook and a business book.
People have extended my canvas several times in my life, and those were the biggest gifts I have ever received.
Think about the people that you care for. Take a few moments for each person, and see the size and shape of the canvas that they are currently working with. Think about how to help them extend their canvas. Often, they are unconsciously staying within boundaries that may be invisible to them.
What gifts can you give that will help them open their eyes to adjacent areas of their canvas? Your gift could be a book or the entrance fee to a course, a visit to a place that they have never been or a thoughtful introduction to someone. You might buy them a ticket to a museum or simply have a heart-to-heart conversation about a topic that you both care about.
Extending someone's canvas is the best way to make your gift count. It's worth the time you spend thinking about it.
Image credit: Shannanegins on Flickr