Pay It Forward – What Is That?
According to Wikipedia, Pay It Forward “refers to repaying the good deeds one has received by doing good things for other unrelated people.” The idea was first put in writing in 1784 by Ben Franklin in a letter to Benjamin Webb. In 1951 science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein used the phrase in his book Between Planets and today the Heinlein Society preaches and carries out this philosophy.
Most recently the idea was the title of Catherine Ryan Hyde‘s novel Pay It Forward which was adapted into the film starring Helen Hunt Pay It Forward in 2000. According to Hyde, the idea is to perform 3 acts of kindness for each kindness you receive. And then each of those people would then offer 3 acts of kindness and so on and so on, creating an exponential social movement that makes life better for everyone.
Why Should I Do It? -What’s In It For Me?
Doing good for others will make you feel good. Do you remember the last time you let someone cut in front of you in line? How good did that make you feel, especially if the person in front of you smiled and said thank you? That’s actually a bonus. You should simply do it to help others not in return for gratitude, because you might not get it. Take Karma into your own hands. Help others and you’ll see it come back to you.
A Lesson I Learned – Don’t Worry if They Don’t Say “Thanks.”
I remember once when I was a sales training coach, I was working with an employee who did not want any coaching, but I was required to work with each person. I gave him as much guidance and help as everyone, but the vibe he was throwing back to me was “Get out of my face. I don’t need any help.” And this young man really did need some help. He had some major blind spots when it came to his perception of his performance versus his actual performance. I really cared about this fellow and wanted to help him improve. But I left that coaching session feeling as if I had failed because this employee didn’t seem to be accepting of the help.
Well the next day he sought me out to talk. He wanted to apologize. He said “You did a really great job yesterday, and even though it may not have seemed like it at the time, you made a great impact on me. I went home and really thought about what you said and I’ve decided to make some changes in my approach. Thank you.” And then he added, “Don’t be discouraged if this happens to you with other people. Just know that you are getting through, even if you can’t see it at the time.”
So with regards to Pay It Forward, don’t worry if you get the “Thank You” at the time of giving the kindness. Just know that you are making an impact and that person will probably be thinking of it for the rest of the day. Let that carry you. And keep paying it forward to others.
How Should I Do This?
Here are some ideas for Paying It Forward:
- Smile. This is one of the best gifts you can give someone.
- Let people go ahead of you in line both in the store and on the road. The side benefit is that it makes you slow down and realize you don’t need to be in such a hurry always.
- Pay for someone else’s coffee who seems to be in a rush.
- Offer your seat to someone who is standing – on the bus, in a waiting room, anywhere.
- Make a meal for someone who just had a baby. Or offer other household help.
- Take someone to lunch who has lost a loved one and just listen or just be there if they don’t want to talk.
- Invite a live-alone older neighbor to dinner or for a walk, shopping, whatever. This could be huge! For both of you!
- Donate blood. Imagine, someone’s life will be hanging in the balance tomorrow and you can take action today to save his or her life! Wow!
- Join a volunteer program like Meals on Wheels or Volunteer Driving for the American Cancer Society.
- Become a mentor or Big Brother/ Big Sister to a young person in need.
- Write letters to the troops serving in Iraq.
- Buy lunch for a homeless person.
- Visit a nursing home and spend some time with a lonely person.
- Buy someone flowers that needs cheering up.
- Volunteer with Habitat for Humanity.
Share YOUR Experience!
Please share your ideas, testimonials, and experiences for “Pay It Forward.” All comments big and small are very welcomed!
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