Pay It Forward

POSTED JUNE 1, 2016 - by Dina Silver

You never know when you may change a person’s life for the good.  Most of us actively hope that we have a positive influence on the people we know-- we try to behave with integrity and kindness.  But if you really want to ramp up the odds that you have enormous impact, your actions must be intentional and selfless.

Sometimes people take intentional actions that are heroic. You may have heard, for example, of these amazing kidney transplant stories where one person gives a healthy kidney to a needy stranger and then a friend or family member of that recipient donates to another needy and unrelated patient.  These virtuous circles have exceptional impact—the lives of multiple individual’s lives are saved and their ‘debt’ is re-payed by family or friends who pay it forward by giving a kidney to another needy person.

This is a big gift!  And not all of us will choose to take an action of such enormity.  But there are still loads of other ways for each of us to create joy, change lives, grow the careers of others, or lend a hand to someone who needs some help. Mainly we need to adopt a mindset of service to others and let go of worrying about how we will benefit from our efforts.

In the corridors and offices of our companies, there are a myriad of ways to change lives. 

  • Introduce a talented junior person to a much more senior individual ensuring that the senior person really takes note.  Help both see how they can be of help to each other.  Do not hoard your senior level connections.  Spread the wealth and enable unexpected outcomes and partnerships to emerge.
  • Mentor a new-hire with the kind of commitment that brings them on board assuredly and successfully—go the extra mile.
  •  Praise accomplishments publicly and authentically.  Never take credit for the work of others.
  • Give away a juicy assignment to someone who needs visibility and opportunity.
  • Take an interest in your staff’s kids.  Connect them to interesting internships by making a few calls. Remember how hard it was for you when you first started?
  • Step in and help someone who is stumbling—even if it is far from your job description.  When someone is in harm’s way do not sit by and watch the train wreck.
  • Promote staff as soon as they are ready-- even though it may leave you short-staffed and their talents may be in the service of a competing department! You can never grow yourself by holding another back.

Every time you become intentional about having powerful and positive impact on another person you have the opportunity to start an amazing ripple of change and confidence in the life of another.  Their newfound opportunities have impact on their home lives as well as their work lives.  And when people experience this kind of generosity of spirit they are likely to pay it forward:  your initial action may have an unexpectedly long life cycle.  And though you may never be able to connect all of the dots, they are connected. 

It is free and easy to make a big difference so give your help generously and leave a big footprint.