You make a difference. What are your Ripples?

When the weekly Brain Pickings newsletter landed in my inbox, I clicked on a link that took me to an excellent summary of the book: Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success by Adam M. Grant, Ph.D.  

According to the article, the book breaks people into three interaction or reciprocity styles (givers, takers and matchers) and how each one leads to varying degrees of success. What grabbed my attention was this quote about givers:

"… But there’s something distinctive that happens when givers succeed: it spreads and cascades …  Givers succeed in a way that creates a ripple effect, enhancing the success of people around them. You’ll see that the difference lies in how giver success creates value, instead of just claiming it."

Givers are the type of people who use their own gifts and talents to “amplify the smarts and capabilities of others,” like Liz Wiseman’s Multipliers.

Photo by  manu schwendener  on  Unsplash

In the workplace, givers share their ideas, knowledge, information, time and energy. They are neither doormats nor do they give for strategic purposes.  

For some, this doesn’t come naturally. Regardless, each one of us can be a giver. It’s a choice.

Here's a story. 

I was listening to an NPR interview of the now retired police chief of Dallas, David Brown and author of Called To Rise: A Life in Faithful Service to the Community That Made Me. He talks about the impact of desegregation and recounts the following event that shaped his life, his worldview and approach to being a police chief:

“When he was 11 years old, he said, one of his new white classmates invited him over. I felt like Sidney Poitier in Guess Who's Coming To Dinner," Brown says. "It really was one of those surreal moments where you don't know whether you're going to be uninvited. And his mother comes out with two pot pies, and we sit there and have a nice dinner, and they make me feel at home. And they make me feel like I am no different than them."

Brown says he carries that memory with him when confronting divisions about and conversations on race.

"I wonder, 'Why aren't we smarter than sixth graders? Why can't we figure this out?" Brown says. "It takes not a big group, not yelling and screaming, but ‘let’s sit down and listen to each other and invite someone home for dinner.'"

That single event changed the course of David Brown’s life. He not only paid it forward, he built bridges of understanding.
We may never know the ripple effect that our acts of generosity, kindness, caring, listening, support, and sharing of ourselves have on another. When we give each other a hand up, it’s a win-win.

We feel good, we help someone else, others are happy for our success (according to the article, people tend to be happy for the success of givers), and it has a multiplying effect.

Can you remember:

  • That special adult who made a difference in your life? 
  • The teacher who believed in you and your talents? 
  • The boss who shared their earlier career mistakes so you would know you were not alone? 
  • The important stranger who said a kind word just when you most needed it?

The thing is, regardless of whether we are a giver, taker or matcher, what we say and do has a ripple effect.

What a profound responsibility

"With each action we take, each sentence we utter or write, each tweet, FB or G+ post, we make a difference to someone, somewhere."

Each of us has the possibility to forward and change the course of humanity for the better. We can leave a legacy that lives on in the hearts and minds of others, well beyond the death of our physical form.

Recently, I watched an interview with a physician on one of the major news networks in the US, who shared the story of her near-death experience. While unconscious, she went through a life review and saw the ripple effect of her words and deeds. She witnessed at least 35 layers beyond the person immediately affected.

What if that’s true? It begs the question, “what are the ripples you intend to spread, even if you never know how what you do, matters?”

Please join the conversation. Who has given generously and made a difference and contributed to you? How did that change the course of your life?

Want to explore some intentional and nonintentional ripples?  Connect with Trilogy Effect today: 1-613-406-5834.