Years ago I heard a story from a motivational speaker named Jim Rohn that forever changed the way I thought/think about tipping. I can’t remember the story exactly as he told it but the following re-creation makes the same basic point.
Jim had a mentor named Mr. Shoaff who one day asked him,
“Jim, when you get your shoes shined, how much do you tip the person who shined your shoes?”
Jim replied, “A quarter.” Note: this story is from a very long time ago.
Mr. Shoaff inquired, “How does that make you feel?”
Jim said, “I don’t know, fine.”
Mr. Shoaff replied, “What if you gave him two quarters, how would that make you feel?”
Jim, “I guess … Great.”
Mr. Shoaff, “Jim, whenever you’re trying to decide what amount you’re going to give as a tip, and two numbers pop into your head, always choose the larger number. Become a two quarter tipper—not just because the other person deserves it, but because of how it’ll make you feel.”
I love that story. It changed my life. And now I want to pass it along to you—along with a few other ideas behind this concept.
I. Successful People Don’t Think In Terms of Scarcity
One of the reasons why so many people are such poor tippers is because they come from a place of scarcity. “If I give a 20% tip on top of these already high prices this restaurant is charging me, I’ll have less money to spend on the things I want to spend my money on.”
That’s a scarcity mindset (“I only have so much and if I give some away I’ll have less”). You don’t want to think that way. Successful people come from a place of abundance. They believe that there’s always more and that when you give, you always end up with more.
Biblically we know this to be true because when we give, God always blesses us with more. And the more we give, the more we get in return.
So, if you want to live a highly successful life, choose a mindset of abundance, not scarcity—and you’ll find that being a good tipper is a piece of cake.
II. Tipping is a Great Gauge of Generosity
If you were to force me to pick one core value that I wish every person had (which obviously would include you), I think generosity might be it. It’s at the very heart of God (“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son …”) and it’s what He demonstrates every day. God is incredibly generous.
But how can you know if you’re generous? Well, one easy way is to look at your tipping. Stingy people (meaning, non-generous people), are terrible tippers. Stingy people want to give the least amount away. Why? Because they want to spend all “their money” on them (“It’s my money after all. I worked for it.”).
However, generous people are the exact opposite. Generous people are constantly looking for ways they can bless other people with what they possess because they don’t see “their money” as something for just them. They see “their money” as simply a tool to use to help others (including themselves and their family).
Which is why, if you want to know if you have a generous heart, one quick test is to see how much you tip. In fact, to help you answer this question, here are two additional questions that can help you know if your heart is stingy or generous.
1. If you’re wondering, “What’s the least amount I can give and at least be respectable?” then chances are your heart is stingy.
2. If, on the other hand, you’re wondering, “What’s the most I can give this person?” or, “’What would positively surprise this person?” chances are you have a generous heart.
So, what does your tipping say about your level of generosity?
III. How You Treat Those Who Serve You Says A Lot About You
If you were ever to be interviewed by me for a job, chances are we’d meet at a restaurant at some point before I hired you. Why? Because one of the tests I use before hiring anybody (who’s local) is seeing how they treat wait staff.
- Do they recognize the server? Or not?
- Do they listen and remember the server’s name? Or not?
- Do they use the server’s name when they want something or the server brings something to the table? or not?
- Do they acknowledge the server when the server brings something to the table? Or not?
- Do they treat the server with respect? Or not?
- Do they look at the server and speak clearly to them? Or not?
- Do they engage the server in a conversation? Or not?
Now, why do I use that test? Because how someone treats those who serve them says a whole lot about the character of the person.
Similarly, how you (or I) tip someone says a lot about our character.
IV. Being Generous Always Makes You Feel Great
Yes, we should tip well because it’s the right thing to do (and that’s how servers make their living). But one of the things I love about God is that He usually rewards us for doing what’s right by letting us feel good about it (i.e. when we obey, he gives us His joy—John 15:10,11).
When Jesus says, “It is more blessed to give than receive,” He was right. The real joy in life isn’t found in receiving from others, it’s found in giving to others.
And that is clearly true in the case of tipping. For example, as of the date I’m writing this letter, the normal restaurant tipping rate is 15%. That’s what’s expected. If you give less than 15%, chances are you’ll feel cheap and that’s a terrible way to live. If you give 15%, you’ll probably feel “nothing” because you simply met the expected tip rate for a restaurant meal here in the US.
However, if you choose to bless your server with a 20% or 25% or 30% (or more) tip, chances are you’ll walk out of that restaurant feeling great. You’ll have a smile on your face—and so will your server. Why would you want to live any other way!
So, if you want to feel good about yourself, if you want to make others feel great, if you want to be a generous person, if you want to honor God, if you want to live a life of abundance, not scarcity, and if you want to be a more successful human being, make sure you always tip well. It’s one of those simple little things that says a lot about you.
To your accelerated success!
P.S. The reason why that Jim Rohn story was so meaningful to me was because I was that stingy person for the first few decades of my life—and I never felt great leaving a restaurant. Once I changed (and it’s always possible to change), that has not been my experience. I now leave feeling great. Even if the service wasn’t great. It’s not my job to “teach the server what good service is.” That’s their bosses job. My job and privilege is to bless them (noting, of course, that great service always gets a bigger blessing :-)