It requires strength and self-assurance to help others. You can't be insecure because you're instead choosing to take yourself out of competition with everyone. To do that, you have to believe and know that you've already succeeded. Ultimately, it's one unified team, not a feeding frenzy. Paying it forward is the ultimate expression of self-esteem because you're placing yourself on a different plane. It's very challenging to be kind to people that you feel are infringing on your territory.
If you're helping to build people up even when thy operate in the same space, you clearly feel confident that you own the space that you're in. Here are some ways to help 'pay it forward' in your marketplace:
- Teaching your success principles to other people. Not only do you learn them better, it cements your own knowledge and it's a nice thing to do. If I'm buying something and I notice the person selling it to me says they're new at their job – if they ask for my help – I always enjoy helping them. After I get the deal that I want, it only takes a few moments of my time to tell them some of the things that have helped me along the way. It's wonderful to know that I can leave a transaction with what I want and they got something positive out of it as well. Too frequently in beginning sales jobs, nobody is teaching you, so every bit of advice is useful. Good advice is incredibly rare. Trying to be thoughtful about the advice you give is a very kind thing to do. It shouldn't be all sales people against each other. It should be all sales people building each other up – professional selling is a tough game. Why would you want to climb over each other when you can just walk next to each other? If everyone is elevated, it doesn't mean that the pyramid's getting smaller. And if it is, you might be in a pyramid scheme...
- Trusting other people enough to delegate to them. If you're not micromanaging someone, you're showing that you believe in them and you're giving them a chance to succeed on their own. This allows you to believe in your own leadership enough to believe in them. You have to be an excellent communicator to tell someone something once and be able to get that thing done. Not only is it draining for you to ride someone, it doesn't inspire anyone to be their best if you're assuming they're being their worst. John W. Nordstrom only has one rule in the employee handbook: 'Use good judgment in all situations.' You don't want to be the one person who's judgment doesn't fit into that category. Having such a broad sweeping rule encourages people to be their best.
- Praise other people randomly and genuinely - This practice is nice and good for morale. It helps build self-esteem and that feeds on itself energetically; something highly undervalued that doesn't happen very often in modern society. Acknowledge others without expectation of return. If you notice someone putting out a lot of effort on a project that isn't being acknowledged, praise their effort. It doesn't have to be a huge sale to have been a ton of work. How about a co-worker who is wonderful to her family? Colleagues take time to make their desk space look nice, with pictures and flair. People have weird hobbies, so never hesitate to ask, especially in interviews when they ask if you have any final questions: "What do you do for fun?" Take the time to be genuinely interested in others. Everyone is so accustomed to having no one be interested – it's a treat when someone really cares. A lot of people are lonely, so genuinely caring about their well-being is a kind thing to do. You might be the only one that is interested. There's so much rejection in sales that just being generally kind to those around you might be the one light in their day. Kindness is very important. If you can be that for one person, wouldn't it be nice if that happened for you as well. I think eventually if you do that enough, being thoughtful toward other people can feel as good as people being thoughtful toward you. You can generate this any time. The Dalai Lama can sit in front of a vast audience and still take an active interest in every single person. His listeners truly feel that he cares about them as human beings... because he does!
- Genuinely care for the success of people that are frequently overlooked. To empower people who are disenfranchised breathes new life into situations that have grown old and stale. You're all of a sudden able to see something that you've only seen from one perspective in an entirely new one. Take the CEO interacting with people at all levels of her organization which allows her to see things that she may have overlooked from the top. Rather than be frustrated with team members who aren't winning sales awards, why not help them find their area where they'll shine within the organization? Especially if they're genuinely trying to contribute. Someone who cares about the success of your business is extremely hard to find, so working to place them in the optimal role in your organization will ultimately bring your team more value.
One of the most important things is that you're wholeheartedly enjoying helping others. If it doesn't come from a pure place, it just feels like mandatory community service. No one wants to feel like they're participating in forced charity on either end. The purity of your heart makes it kind and tolerant. You could do something very small and if it means a lot to you and that person, it can be much bigger than an empty grand gesture.
I began that 'pay it forward' became trendy a long time ago and people want to feel like the kid in the movie but don't actually care about what they're doing. It's a paradox. If you don't care about someone you're helping, you're not helping them. It takes a lot of maturity to care about someone you might not know very well. If you really allow yourself to care about others, then they're not random acts of kindness, it's just about how you live your life.
You shouldn't be patting yourself on the back because you're helping someone less fortunate. You should just want to be kind to everyone who's around you. Rather than seeing people around you as less fortunate, just see that they are in a different situation than you are, because nobody wants to be looked down on. In the words of Ian MacLaren: "Be kind. Everyone you meet is carrying a heavy burden."
If your world-view is healthy; you won't judge people's stations in life, you won't walk around feeling better than others but you also won't walk around feeling worse than others. It will allow you to interact with everyone that you meet more purely which is something people really appreciate when it happens to them. In this day and age, there's so much tooting of each others horns but rarely done with sincerity.
The idea of only calling back the important people is very belittling to pretty much everyone. How do you really know who's important when you barely know them? When you take everyone's perspective in, you can learn a great deal more. When you're trying to do a deal, taking in feedback from someone on a lower organizational level can still help you. No one knows more or less than anyone else; they just know different things. Everyone's wise in their own way. Education and 'station in life' don't dictate knowledge or value.
If you treat everyone with authentic kindness, not only will it be returned to you ten fold but you'll have a much better perspective on the world around you. When most get into power, they're suddenly around people that kiss-up to them and it's so easy to lose perspective on the world that way. If you value everyone's opinion, you won't get stuck in a glass house with the people you love outside wanting to throw rocks at you. It's better to build the house together with all those rocks into a nice, sturdy stone castle.
The technology industry has such a reputation of being soulless. It would be nice to change that. Wouldn't it be nice if it was computers and humans not just humans trying to be like computers? They are both part of the equation. The main thing that humans have that computers don't is empathy; why try and lose that? Why not embrace how we're different than computers?
Social media has such a reputation for being tragically soulless. Why not spend that time and our brain power encouraging each other? It takes less energy to do something positive than to do something negative. Stating this the opposite is a cop out. I personally think that refueling to build-up those around you rather than to tear them down is less exhausting. If you have the option to feel better or worse by using the internet, why not choose to feel better? Sometimes it can be easier to participate in slanderous gossip but it's never going to make you actually feel like a better person. Do you really want to be following everyone that's jumping off the gossip cliff? Lemmings don't generally have the best life expectancy.
When Tony Hsieh would interview new hires, he'd keep in touch with the driver that picked them up at the airport in Vegas. He would ask the driver how he was treated by the candidate. I think the message is: It doesn't matter how you act when you think you're being watched. It matters who you are all the time. Everyone's well behaved when they think that their livelihood is on the line. If how you treat those around you matters enough to dictate hiring, it clearly should be valued as much as how you appear on paper in your curriculum vitae. Needless to say that Tony Hsieh did not hire anyone who was arrogant or rude to the driver.
No matter how well you think you're presenting yourself, if your whole life is self involved, you'll never truly succeed. The thing that shows through and wins in the end is that you care a lot about yourself and others. Let's face it, Mother Teresa is probably much more likely to get hired anywhere over Kim Kardashian. The wicked queen in Snow White probably didn't have a lot of Twitter followers.
If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website: www.TonyHughes.com.au.
Main Image Photo by Flickr: Mikael Tigerström