Over 25 years ago I stumbled upon a philosophy or theory
that I really liked and made a lot of sense. It had
to do with paying back a kindness by going out and doing a
kind act for ten other people, asking each of them to do
the same if they wanted to repay the kindness. In
this way, good and kind actions would multiply
I discovered that same principle, modified, in a movie
that came out a few years ago called Pay It Forward. The story centers around a
middle school student who is given a beginning of the
school year assignment in social studies to come up with a
way to change the world.
He comes up with a plan he calls "Pay It
Forward." His plan consists of doing something
big for three people and telling them to pay it forward to
three other people. Again the idea of good deeds
multiplying themselves. The student has a number of
criteria, however. First that it must be
"something big" that is done. The second
is that it must be "something hard to do."
The most difficult part of this exercise for the student
is not to see the results of his actions. He selects
three people and begins his experiment. He does not
see the change in terms of helping them that he had hoped.
We see him cross off each of the people he helped,
discouraged that the principle did not work.
What he is unaware of is that even though the people's
lives do not seem to change much as a result of his
actions, that his effort is remembered by each of them and
causes them to look for opportunities to "pay it
forward." He has no idea of how many
people were touched as a result of his actions, nor how
far it traveled, which was extensive.
Most of us have found ourselves in the same position as
this student. We try to help someone or do something
meaningful or important and see no results. We may
become discouraged or feel that the effort was wasted.
In truth, nothing is ever wasted and everything we say and
do has an impact of which we are never aware. We may
be fortunate enough to see some results of our efforts,
but the greatest portion of the impact we have is beyond
our ability to see or experience. Think of all the
people who have touched your life over the years and
impacted it for the better. How many of them are
aware of the impact that they had upon your life? In
addition to that, how often have these actions set the
tone for our actions towards others? When we
contemplate this, we begin to see how interconnected we
really are and how much power we have.
Each of us creates a legacy and sets the foundation for
Gail Pursell Elliott,
"The Dignity and Respect Lady".
Innovations "Training With A Can-Do Attitude" TM
Promoting Dignity and Respect, No Exceptions. In
Companies and Communities Nationwide.