At my work I have the privilege to be a part of a strong mentoring program that pairs mentors and protégés together in a structured partnership that creates the opportunity for transformational growth and personal development. Repeatedly we hear mentors comment on how significant an impact the experience had on them. People talk about their lives being changed, about the boost in self-confidence they experience, and about the powerful relationships they now enjoy with their partner in this journey. It is truly a remarkable thing to have a mentor and to be a mentor.
This year, at the end of the formal program, our executive sponsor referenced an analogy from John C. Maxwell’s book, “How Successful People Grow.” The analogy involves the comparison of a reservoir to a river. A reservoir is a place into which water flows for storage. The water comes in and stays. A river is a conduit through which water flows. Water enters into the river from various sources and flows through it to various other vessels, including reservoirs, streams, oceans, and other rivers. Thinking about being a successful person, one must ask oneself, am I river or a reservoir? The successful person is a river. He or she receives an abundant amount of input, investment, nourishment, and enrichment from others and then selflessly allows that input, investment, nourishment, and enrichment to flow through to other people.
As we ended the official mentoring program this year our executive sponsor encourage the protégés to be a river; to let all the life transforming gifts received flow through them to another. Some people call this paying it forward. It is that act of doing for others the good that someone has done for you. Both science and experience teach us that this is truly trans formative behavior. As you pay it forward, you are blessed, and you grow through the experience. The act actually generates happiness and even joy. And the joy and happiness continues. The person who receives from you is blessed. They feel valued by you; important, and these feelings make them happy. Happiness is the path to success. Not the other way around. So, by being a river, you create happiness in yourself and in those you serve, and in so doing, you promote success.
Interestingly, research shows that by-standards who witness your river like behavior are impacted as well. It makes people feel good to see someone doing good for another and they are often moved to the same river like behavior themselves and thus the cycle continues. Rivers generate rivers. Reservoirs generate nothing, expect perhaps mosquitoes. So, the question I encourage you to ask yourself today is, am I a river or a reservoir and to whom will I be a river today? I invite you to share your river stories with me. Tell me about the people who have served you. How did that make you feel? Tell me about the people you are serving. How has doing this contributed to your success?
Image courtesy of dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net