How can you “Pay It Forward?”

payforwardPay It Forward is a book, but it’s also an idea. It’s an action plan within a work of fiction. But does it have to be fiction? I hope not. In fact, since the book was released in January of 2000, a real-life social movement has emerged, not just in the U.S. but worldwide. What began as a work of fiction has already become much more.

Reuben St. Clair, the teacher protagonist of the book “Pay It Forward”, starts a movement with this voluntary, extra-credit assignment: THINK OF AN IDEA FOR WORLD CHANGE, AND PUT IT INTO ACTION.

Trevor, the 12-year-old hero of Pay It Forward, thinks of quite an idea. He describes it to his mother and teacher this way: “You see, I do something real good for three people. And then when they ask how they can pay it back, I say they have to Pay It Forward. To three more people. Each. So nine people get helped. Then those people have to do twenty-seven.” He turned on the calculator, punched in a few numbers. “Then it sort of spreads out, see. To eighty-one. Then two hundred forty-three. Then seven hundred twenty-nine. Then two thousand, one hundred eighty-seven. See how big it gets?”

The preceding text was taken from the website www.payitforwardfoundation.org

I don’t know about you but I remember watching the movie, “Pay it Forward” and thinking to myself what a powerful, generous, life changing idea… Just imagine if the world bought in!

This month I thought it would be great if all of us took three ideas/life lessons, that have helped us immensely and paid them forward. Share them with three or more people who could benefit and would find value in what you have to offer. Then, of course, ask them to “pay it forward” to others.

Here’s what I am thinking…

What would happen if you thought of one employee, one customer and one personal friend and you were to share with them one of the powerful life lessons you have learned? In return you were to ask them to pay it forward to one other person in the company, one of their customers’ and also one of their personal friends.

What do you think would happen? Do you think your relationships would grow stronger? Do you think people’s perception of who you are and what you stand for might grow stronger. Do you think your world might become a better place?

I also want to remind you of the Law of Reciprocity that states, “that we will want to repay, in kind, what another person has generously provided us.” The Law of Reciprocity exists inside of us; people will want to help others who have unselfishly helped them. Think of it as the emotional bank account that binds the loyalty in all our relationships!

Note: We cannot pursue reciprocity. When we try to invoke reciprocity directly, we lose sight of the reason for it: to help others!
Now, for my part I thought I would share three of the most powerful ideas that I have experienced in my business life.

1) Put Braille on your business card. While you may not have a reason to, it speaks volumes about the type of caring person you are and I guarantee your business card will stand out and be noticed more than any other card out there. The cost is approximately $60.00 and can be done at the CNIB.

2) Draw a pictogram of your company’s future. While I was President of ExecuTrain, my Vice President drew a wonderful 20-foot pictogram of the company’s journey and what lies ahead. She drew highway onramps and off ramps to show the employees who would be coming and leaving, she drew construction zones to illustrate the areas where we expected to undergo great change, she drew fast food joints and fine dining establishments to indicate questions we had to consider when defining our service model, she drew toll roads to illustrate our need to get our Accounts Receivable in order. I watched in awe as employees started to relate to this picture and were able to get a much clearer perspective of where our business was going and why we were doing some of the things we were doing.

3) Give new employees a “welcome” gift. When I was President of ExecuTrain, every new employee got a handwritten welcome card and a $25 Chapters Gift Certificate for their personal use. For me, I always thought that we should celebrate when people join the organization, not when they leave it.

I hope you can use these ideas in your business, either pass them on or pay it forward with your own three great ideas.

Brainstorming Ideas

  1. What great lessons/ideas can you share?
  2. Who will you share them with?
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