Fillin' Buckets

Have you read the book, “How Full is Your Bucket?” by Tom Rath and Donald Clifton? It was required reading by my company a few years ago, and I was surprised to discover my son learning the same concepts in kindergarten.

The premise is this: Everyone has a bucket. When it’s full, you feel good. When it’s empty, you feel bad. You fill others’ buckets by doing things that make them feel good. You take away from their buckets when you do things that cause negative feelings. Your own bucket is filled when you fill others’ or when they add to yours.

Although this much my 6-year old could grasp, it gets more complicated. The same things that fills some people’s buckets may not fill others. For example, words of affirmation may fill one person’s bucket more, and gifts may fill someone else’s more. Also, based on this concept, you have to make choices about spending time with people, depending on whether or not they tend to give to or take away from your bucket. You also have the choice with every personal interaction to fill buckets around you.

This concept goes against the win-lose culture prevalent in schools and workplaces today. Instead, if I help you out, I will benefit also. If I am rude or selfish, we both lose.

Positive actions such as kindness, appreciation, encouragement, recognition, and generosity can create an environment where cooperation prevails over competition, productivity increases, and everyone is happier to be a part of the organization.

It also means that everyone can make a difference in the life of others. It doesn’t cost anything to find a positive word to say to someone in your life. It doesn’t take much to realize how a simple smile or kind deed can brighten someone’s day. It doesn’t take but a moment to thank someone or recognize a job well done. It doesn’t matter what your age, status, or abilities are, you can fill someone’s bucket.

With all the junk out there- profanity, criticism, apathy a little positive can do a lot of good. The more you give, the better you feel. I believe some people have made such a habit of creating positive feelings in other people, their buckets are constantly overflowing and splashing on people, even total strangers. Like the psalmist writes in Psalm 23, “my cup runs over.”

Give it a try. Say something nice to somebody. Perform a random act of kindness. Smile. If you need a coach, there’s a classroom of kindergarten graduates out there ready to demonstrate!


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