This week’s reading, a well researched and significant book by Tom Rath and Don Clifton reminded me much of two other books that were of immense benefit during critical junctures in my life. To describe the reading of these books as life changing would definitely not be an overstatement. They were more than just mile markers. The first one was in 1975. It was a time when I was deeply hurting and discouraged as a result of certain happenings. Unfortunately I am unable to recall the author or the title of the book but the contents have been deeply embedded in my heart since then. Next to my Bible, it became a personal handbook for me at that time. The book described in simple terms five important qualities one should strive for. They were Friendliness, Honesty, Courtesy, Magnanimity and Forgiveness. It did not take too long for me to discover that consciously practicing them made the world better for me. Perhaps I need to rephrase it by saying it made me a better person for the world.
The second book was the well-known 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. The year I read it was 1991. Certain experiences I was going through at that time in my life and ministry can at best be described as difficult and rough. This book was a timely godsend. It helped me look within. Again, it became a handbook for me over the next decade and changed my life and ministry in a dramatic way. Obviously, reading these books or practicing the principles, did not change anything around me. People were the same and circumstances no different, but they changed my perspective on everything. They helped me move beyond the difficulties and focus on growing spiritually, emotionally and relationally, making a better leader of me.
In a similar way, the easy to read but powerful book, How Full Is Your Bucket turns out to be quite timely, helpful and a fresh reminder for me of a few guiding principles of life that are not too difficult to practice but easily overlooked. I needed to be drawn once again to these important life changers: Prevent Bucket Dipping; Shine a light on What Is Right; Make Best Friend; Give Unexpectedly; Reverse the Golden Rule. I am observing that when these strategies are followed and the buckets of others and my own remain filled:
The best in everyone surfaces
There is a greater level of acceptance and respect for one another
Positive outlook and positive attitudes emerge
Rath helped me consciously evaluate my life and discover how far I fall short in making life better for others and for myself. I have committed to conscientiously follow the five strategies and consciously apply them each day until they meld into my very being, people recognize me by these qualities and God is glorified.
This reading also reminded me of Paul’s strikingly similar exhortation to the Philippians; a passage of scripture that has always been close to my heart: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Phi 4:8,9 NIV) I particularly love the closing of this passage where the very presence of the “God of peace” is assured to those who follow this path. I can say I sensed that as the five strategies were practiced. What more could a leader ask for?