I know from personal experience that we don’t always appreciate a gift the moment we receive it. Whether tangible or intangible, it sometimes takes the passage of time or a change in circumstances to realize that someone took the time to make a difference in your day, maybe even your life.
As young Trevor McKinney said in the movie, “When someone does you a big favor, don’t pay it back… Pay It Forward”.
By paying it back, you’ve just exchanged niceties or maybe you’ve even begun a game of one-upmanship. By paying it forward, you help someone who helps someone else…….and so begins a circle of endless giving. Paying it forward isn’t necessarily about monetary payment, but it doesn’t exclude it either. Many people are not in a position to help out in this way yet they do because to them, it’s right. What little they have is still more than what others have.
This message hit me full in the face when, just two weeks after landing in Canada, I received help from a homeless man. I was 19, stranded in a Toronto bus station at 3am on a Sunday morning with absolutely no money and even less in the way of street smarts. But the small change this ‘gentleman from the streets’ pressed into my hand enabled me to make a big difference in my situation.
There are many subtle and meaningful ways to join the “Pay It Forward” movement. They don’t have to be huge and they don’t have to appear life changing even though that might be the payoff and, if it is, isn’t that the ultimate in giving? The lack of immediate reciprocity is replaced by a sense of contentment, of knowing you’ve done the right thing no matter how big or small the gesture.
In the words of Ghandi, “Be the change you want to see in the world”. If we all do it, chances are you will also be paid back, when someone else pays it forward…..not necessarily in cash, but definitely in kind. But don’t let that be the incentive to reach out. Do it for the simple reason that you can, whenever you can, not just on April 30th. Extend a kindness to a stranger or offer a free service to a client and when they say “Thanks”, simply ask them to Pay It Forward. We should all do it…don’t you think?
Please share with me how you chose to Pay It Forward today. I’d love to hear from you.