At some point in our lives, someone gave us a chance when nobody else would. We received a random act of kindness and nothing was asked in return. Somebody believed in us, and helped us. Maybe we were offered a job despite lacking experience. Perhaps we were caught doing something we shouldn’t have, but were given a second chance. Whatever form it may have taken, if we think hard enough, we can all bring to mind at least one instance in which somebody saw enough in us that they were prepared to take a gamble.
In times gone by, helping others was a more common practice but somewhere along the way we seem to have become a bit more selfish. Today, people are becoming increasingly driven by self-interest and self-promotion, and ignorant of the world around them. Self confidence is good, and we do need to work on ourselves before we can help others BUT it’s the last part that we are forgetting. We are focusing on ourselves and forgetting that our experiences and knowledge can be a source of help for someone else. Social media posts increasingly seem to revolve around somebody’s latest luxury purchase or their luxurious lifestyle. While we should absolutely share what makes us happy and motivates us, I feel that there is an opportunity being wasted. Rather than your latest watch, why not share some of your knowledge or experience so that you might inspire and motivate others? Share what you have learned on your journey and how you have developed along the way. Or give a glimpse of what life is really like, when the cameras are off, for an entrepreneur, writer, actor, artist…
What I am asking, is for you to pay it forward. Take that kindness, belief, trust or opportunity which you benefited from, and use it to help somebody else who has no real way of returning the favour. Inspire them, in turn, to pay it forward themselves when the opportunity presents itself. In this way, we have something of a virtuous cycle, in which we help others through random acts of kindness and they then do the same for someone else. This is applicable in all areas of life, from business to personal relationships and has the potential to be a huge force for good.
Let’s return to the social media example for a moment. Even if there is a social media strategy in place, and the self-promotion is helping to grow your account and increase your influence, you can still pay it forward. Even if you only devote one Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or Snapchat post to helping others, it has the potential to be seen by, and inspire, millions of people around the world. This inspirational or informative post might help someone in Australia find the strength to over come a challenge they are facing. It might provide the spark for someone in India who dreams of launching their own business. It might give strength to someone in England who is trying to overcome issues with their self confidence. With the help of the internet, your act of kindness can help people all over the world in a multitude of ways. As a happy coincidence, the more awareness that spreads of what you have posted, it could even serve to enhance your online presence and reputation. Rather than compete with others in showing the world how great you are and what you have, stand out from the crowd and share instead some of your wisdom.
It’s not just online that we can pay it forward. You might be interviewing a candidate who doesn’t quite tick all of the boxes, but if they interview well perhaps you might give them a chance to prove themselves. You might have a friend who is launching a business and would welcome your support. When the opportunity presents itself, however it presents itself, please take it. As well as good art, music and literature, the world needs us to be more considerate towards, and supportive of, each other. Help someone who just needs a chance, and in the future they may be the one helping you.