I love the above video from actor and investor, Ashton Kutcher, because it reminds us all of the opportunity that work is. Researcher, Jonas Salk said, “The reward for work well done is the opportunity to do more.” And inventor, Thomas A. Edison said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Putting effort into work is the only way for good things to happen. It’s very difficult to have good results come from nothing, but when we put effort into the right things, great things are bound to happen.The reward for work well done is the opportunity to do more. - Jonas Salk Click To Tweet
Have you ever thought of yourself as a well or a drain? A river or a reservoir?
Whether you like it or not, when other people think about you, they can easily identify you as one or the other.
Are you the kind of person who drains the energy out of a room? Are you someone who is always taking, taking, taking?
Or are you the other type? The person who takes the opportunity to constantly pour into others…Who has a cup that is full to pour into those around them?
Here are three indicators that you just might be a drain or at least a reservoir:
- You tend to keep to yourself. Other people constantly get in your way and annoy you when they try to help.
- You spend more time alone than you do with other people (often this time is spent envisioning conversations that will never happen or demonizing people in your head).
- You cannot think of at least one person with whom you are intentionally investing your time, money, or energy.
Do any of those ring a bell with you? At least one of those resonates with me and it is enough to raise a red flag.
I work in an office by myself most days. Anywhere from 2-10 hours are spent alone. But, my office is in a co-working space. I have plenty of opportunities to go work out in the common areas and to build relationships with people. I have the opportunity to offer myself as someone they can bounce their ideas off of. I can take the time and help someone who may never be able to pay me back in any way.
But for some reason, I often find myself spending three or four out of my five work days holed up by myself. I don’t make the effort to get out of my space and into the open. I stagnate. I drain myself. And honestly, if you asked my wife, I guarantee she would be able to tell you there is a difference between the days I spend holed up in my office alone versus the days I go out and work from the common areas. And some days I am a drain not only to myself, but to her as well.
Don’t be a drain.
Be a well. Be a river.
Here are three ways to be a river more often:
- Put yourself out there. Stop trying to keep to yourself. Being an introvert is not an excuse to be a scrooge!
- Pay it forward. Do something for a person that can never repay you and then make it a habit.
- Ask people around you if there is anything you can do to help them with anything. A project, an introduction to someone, or just a conversation over coffee. Care about people and you will leave your mark on them!
Are you sensing a pattern? If you are a drain or a reservoir and constantly keeping to yourself, then do something with what you have been given. Not only within yourself, but also in those around you. You will notice an almost immediate difference in your attitude.
Here is the most important part:
This does NOT come naturally for everyone.
It does not for me. If I were to set my personal cruise control, I could go every day without talking to anyone but my wife. Nothing wrong with that, but I think all of us should strive for more. Doing something for someone that can never repay you does not make sense by normal standards. Growing up, most of us were taught to take an eye for an eye. Sure, we all know how the real phrase goes, but it does not mean we lived it out. Someone punches us in the face, we punch them right back.
Someone does something nice for us, we have to do something nice back. In fact it reminds me of a clip from one of my favorite TV shows, The Office.
We feel obligated to repay debts. To be polite.
But what if we do something great for a person that can never repay us and we ask for nothing in return? It is rare. It goes against our nature. But it is powerful.
Help others without asking for anything in return and see how it feels, especially if you have never done something like that before. If it feels good, do it again. And again.