In my experience…paying it forward works
When was the last time someone helped you? When was the last time you helped someone? Hopefully the answers are easy to come by and about recent instances. Help comes in many forms, from expected and unexpected sources. Sometimes it goes unnoticed and other times it’s instantly recognized. I’ve received help from many people along that way, in all facets of my life, and it’s shaped who I am today. This has fueled both my ability and desire to pay it forward.
In my experience, paying it forward works. Informal evidence, resulting from many conversations, indicates that people who’ve received help look for ways to pay it forward. So why and how do we do that?
Why we pay it forward
I like to think I help because I can, whether help is solicited or unsolicited, but that’s not always the case. Generally, I’m happy to help those who’ve helped me in the past (reciprocity). I’m very willing to help when it somehow benefits me now or in the future (selfishness). Sometimes I help just because I see a need (selflessness). Regardless of your rationale, there is satisfaction in helping others, whether or not that help is recognized or acknowledged.
It’s important to help others. No one has made it through any significant portion of their life without receiving help. I believe our ability to identify those times and turn them into pay-it-forward opportunities are what creates opportunity and success. We help when and because we have the motivation, capability and capacity to do so.
How we pay it forward
Why we help is pretty straightforward. How we help is another story. The need for help is never-ending and most of us have finite resources (time, money, patience, ability). Therefore, we’re selective about the help we provide and to whom we provide it. Sometimes it’s challenging because we don’t know how the other person will react: Are they open to receiving it? Is it what they think they need help with? Is it what they want help with? Try putting yourself in their shoes or simply ask them how best you can help.
I’ve found that I’m most likely to help those that I don’t dislike. That’s an odd way to phrase it, but the most accurate way. While there are myriad ways we help each other, I think of the help I provide in two categories:
Providing information to the other person
Assisting the other person in achieving an objective.
Chances are you’ll find most, if not all help you provide or receive falls into one or both of those categories.
I’ve benefitted significantly from the help of others and my goal is to continue paying that forward because it’s the right thing to do and it's satisfying.
Special thanks to BJ Gray, whose willingness to help and advise me professionally from the instant we met is tremendously valuable, and to Melissa Roberts, whose knowledge and ability to connect entrepreneurs to resources is incredibly helpful.