As an information freak, I tend to absorb a lot of things from sources such as books, the Internet, movies, and webcasts. After a while threads start to develop in my mind. One that has developed recently is the idea of helping others in such a way that your influence is multiplied to many.
This thread developed when I watched a movie called “Pay It Forward”. Made at the beginning of the decade, the movie illustrates how an act of kindness can generate good to a whole lot of people. In the story a seventh grade social studies teacher gives his class an assignment to come up with an idea which could change the world. Trevor, who comes from a broken home with an alcoholic mother, comes up with a plan to do “something big” for three people, who will in turn do the same to three other people. Trevor generally thinks his plan is a bust when over the short term he doesn’t see results from others or from himself. While to Trevor his results are mixed at best, unbeknownst to him he sets in motion a chain of events that impacts people positively in several states and in his own family.
After watching this movie, I ran into a clip from ABC in the USA which discussed how a lady buying some coffee at the drive thru of a coffee shop paid for the next person in line. The clip explains what happened next.
I was impressed with how a small act of kindness brightened the lives of an entire community. I can remember something similar happening to me once. I was at a restaurant with my family and ready to pay the bill when the waitress told us that someone had already paid for us. The gift was anonymous, and we never “paid if forward”, but I still recall how it amazed all of us. Yes, we thought, there are some good people still left in this world.
One way I thought I could begin to pay it forward currently is to pass books along to people. I have promised to send a copy of Dan Miller’s book “48 Days to the Work You Love” to a friend of mine who is in a career transition right now. After doing this, I was affirmed in my decision when I heard Bryan Dodge, an inspirational speaker, discuss how he loved to give books to people during a webcast sponsored by the Zig Ziglar organization. With this encouragement, I decided to give a Bible to a young African today who is returning home this week. He was quite appreciative, especially since he learned that like him I too was a Christian. It gave me the opportunity to pray for him. This is not something I do every day!
If I am going to “pay it forward” I figure I might as well, like Trevor, not limit my acts of kindness to small things. Giving someone what I consider the greatest book ever written is “something big”. The particular Bible I gave my African friend ironically was given to me by others. So I am “paying forward” their kindness. I am positive the original gift will keep on giving.