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This week I have undergone a project to watch my interactions with others. The purpose is derived from a book called How Full is your Bucket by Tom Rath and Donald Clifton. The premise of the book is that we all need positive emotion to keep our buckets full. The “bucket” being the positive energy we bring to work and every interaction we have with others. So for one week I have tracked my interactions. Using The Five Strategies outlined in the book, I gave attention to my levels of positivity. I will focus on a few.
Preventing Bucket Dipping
This strategy is to guard yourself against other people’s draining effects and one’s own approach to interactions. Two awarenesses came to my attention. One is how prevalent a general negativity is in some people. I noticed this especially in a husband wife exchange as I was helping my mother-in-law with moving. How quickly people can become volatile when in perceived stressful or inconvenient environments. Also, how guarded I am around them.
The second thing happened during a conversation with a couple of staff. Not only do I need to keep others from dipping into my bucket, I need to watch for ways I do that with myself and the others I work with. We needed to work at how we are structuring our processes in the church. Some changes had to be made. I expected some resistance or that I would go into lecture mode. Instead, by discussing the improvements that are needed without blaming anyone but the processes that needed improvement the conversation went very smoothly. This happened even though I was frustrated at some decisions that were being made without enough thought. By “Shining the Light on What was Right” before we moved forward, it was amazing how easily the feedback was received. Negativity can be abated when some strategy is given consideration before the exchange is given.
Two events this week required extra effort. One is a frantic call late at night from one of the mothers from our church. Her son was on the way to the hospital for “hurting himself”. In later conversations it was clear he was acting our in anger and no real harm was done. The extreme volatility between the mother and her estranged husband was causing anxiety in their child. To come into the hospital to see the mother and her child added a calming effect on them. (Father is restricted from access). My 23-year-old daughter is involved with leadership with the youth. She without reserve volunteered to come along. Here presence helped “fill the bucket” of this young man and distance his recent negative rant from its intensity.
The next day a homeless man we have been helping interrupted my study day saying he needed to get a new license id that he lost. He is a meth addict trying to get free. His insistent talking usually is irritating. But being awareness of his need moved me to be inconvenienced. I volunteered to drive him to the DMV and pay his fee. This took about two hours out of the day. Awareness alone about “bucket dipping”, can shifts ones thinking. It can help distance oneself from other’s negativity. It also can open oneself up to people who we can fill up emotionally, both by being present to absorb life’s challenges and by mentally preparing oneself before engaging with others.
The last lesson learned is that leader must do all they can to refresh themselves after draining events. This is because buckets leak. We must seek out people that energize things and us that refuel us. The immediacy of our challenges can be offset by the awareness of where we get drained, now our very approach to issues can be draining and then being proactive about restoring our tank.