Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Keys To Happiness #2 Really Invest in Others

If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulder of giants.
-Isaac Newton

Our article on Thursday was a bridge between our first key to happiness and our second which is investing in others. When we improve the lives of those around us we improve our own lives. By making the people around us happier we surround ourselves with other passionate and motivated people. This has a domino affect and changes the world around us. This then inspires us to do the same.

And I don’t necessarily mean helping someone you don’t know either. You can help a spouse, good friend, or family member. In fact, I recommend focusing on depth rather then breadth. In doing so you have a far greater impact on someone else and your actions are more likely to cause that person to pay it forward. Find a cause you are passionate about and focus all your efforts on making a big splash rather than helping out with lots of tiny activities.

From Good to Great
I recently read from Good to Great by Jim Collins which outlines the characteristics of great Companies. One of the qualities of great leaders is that they surround themselves with a great core team of team and then pour themselves and their strategy into the team. By focusing on depth their potency is then disseminated throughout the Company. In contrast, unsuccessful competitors would try and introduce a large marketing campaign to the entire workforce. This would often have little affect after the initial jump start. People’s interest lasted only as long as the flashy campaign was going on and then quickly disseminated. So why doesn’t everyone take the mentor approach? Because focusing on depth takes a lot more of a commitment. It involves multiple meetings and a commitment to a relationship. It often takes years rather then a few weeks.

Almost all of us have a teacher during our school career that changed our lives. My first was probably Mrs. Dial in fourth grade. I was coming out of third grade and had been labeled a “bad kid”. Mrs. Dial must have been patient because she had me and david horn (haha that was a ridiculous combo). I remember she gave us all nicknames that fit our personalities and really set out to get to know everyone personally. When you truly care an amazing thing starts to happen. Your students want to do well. As a class we all excelled. Our class even won some award for having one of the best writing scores in Texas for the TAAS test. The year I spent in her class room turned my school career around and gave me a lot of self confidence moving forward. I am really thankful for all she did for me. On the other hand, we’ve also all had the teacher who teaches the same way to everyone and doesn’t personally invest in her students. I had a bunch of them, and honestly I don’t even remember their names. When you focus on the individual you make a difference.

Biblical Perspective
Regardless of your beliefs, the fact that a man without any sort of worldly authority, wealth, or written work (Jesus didn’t write any of the Bible) disseminated His beliefs across a huge population within a short amount of time is amazing. You would think that His strategy would have been to go out and reach as many people as He could, though when you look at the biblical text much of His time was spent focusing on 12 men and from that group an inner circle of 3. Because He knew that 12 men who were poured into in depth would best disseminate his message, and 3 who were kept extremely close would serve to lead them. If you want to change the world, have a large impact on a few.

The above examples are mentor type relationships, but if that isn’t your strength then perhaps you get extremely involved in an organization. My grandfather has been a long time member of Habitat for Humanity and built around 70 houses with them. 70 houses! That changes a community.

An important note to make is that being an encourager in general and having a willingness to help others will improve the attitude of those around you. Try to make the people around you smile everyday. Plant seeds of positivity and watch them flourish into life long relationships.

If you drop a bunch of little pebbles into a bath tub you are less likely to make a big splash then if you throw in a giant stone. Get involved, inspire, develop, and encourage the world around you. Watch the affects as you change your surroundings and change your life. Go for depth. Take the time to change the world.

Find out how much God has given you and from it take what you need; the remainder is needed by others.
-St. Augustine

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