Pay It Forward in a Take-It-All-World


A generous helping of "pay it forward" would do the world good right about now. Not just because it's the holiday season, but because it's the right thing to do, 365 days a year. However, for me, 365 of anything sounds a bit daunting and way too much to handle all at once. I advise adding to your daily to-do list three magical words -- pay it forward. Bite-size pieces of paying it forward are much more manageable as a daily activity as opposed to a big gulp swallowed yearly. At any given point, there are people in your life in desperate need of a good dose of "you." You will not need to go far or look very hard, they are all around you. The aging woman across the hallway that needs a package brought up from the lobby, the co-worker in need of a ride to pick up her car from the mechanic, or the complete stranger in front of you at lunch that left his wallet in the car.

At any given point, there are people in your life in desperate need of a good dose of you.

Regardless of the time of year, there is always someone in need of a minor fix at minimum, or a complete makeover. Take your pick. Just like going to Starbucks, your pay it forward can be Short, Tall, Grande, Venti or Trenta? If you are really good at paying it forward and have become a seasoned expert, you can start to specialize. Since you are the expert, your skill set will come easy for you. I have a very close friend, Scott, who is a handyman. Scott is regularly paying it forward, since a vast majority of the world is fix-it challenged. To Scott, making a repair comes second nature. For friends, neighbors and those in need, Scott is a miracle worker. Smile on his face, hammer (or any other gadget or whatzit) in his hand, he quickly makes a repair and is on his way. Although Scott makes a good living at his trade, he is a lifetime member of the pay it forward club, and that is no coincidence. Do you have your membership card to the club? It's free.

Paying it forward is going beyond doing the right thing.

Paying it forward is not a handout or even a hand up. Paying it forward is going beyond doing the right thing, catching someone doing something right, going the extra mile and achieving WOW status. It's getting a double take worthy feeling, produced out of love, hitting you hard in the feel-good soft tissue. It's filled with supreme selfless goodness. Here's the fine print -- nothing is expected in return and no representation or expectation of payment, consideration or benefit is expressed or implied.

What is most interesting about the action of paying it forward is that there are a minimum of two people that benefit from the act. First, most obvious, is the recipient. The receiver reaps the reward of having something repaired, installed, upgraded, renewed or retired. Second, the provider gets a deep feeling of satisfaction, a spirit of generosity and a moment to take in a healthy dose of gratitude. The philosophy that says if you want more out of life, give more to life, truly finds practical application when you pay it forward.

Don't ask, do. When you hear a need, put on your cape and play superhero, without hesitation.

If the idea of paying it forward is a hassle to you, or if you are thinking you don't have time for it, or that it just isn't your thing, let me take the velvet of my sledgehammer, get over it, we need you to participate. If this is you, maybe my approach should sound something like this -- pay it forward because it will make you feel good. Even Ebenezer Scrooge realized the error of his ways, becoming the model of generosity, ultimately delivering the holiday meal with all the trimmings and a healthy dose of laughter and kindness.

Don't ask, do. When you hear a need, put on your cape and play superhero, without hesitation. You may not realize it, but you are making the world a better place to live one to-do at a time. 2015 is right around the corner, and sure it would be very easy to add forward paying to your goals for the new year, but get a running start right, there is plenty of time left in 2014. Don't wait. Your timing couldn't be more perfect. While you are at it, pay it forward and send this to someone you know, so they can participate as well. It will make you both feel good.

Doug Sandler, has a soon to be released book called Nice Guys Finish First. Known as Mr. Nice Guy, Doug writes a weekly blog on providing exemplary service, creating winning customer experiences and building relationships. Doug is also a keynote speaker and expert on the topic of providing exemplary customer service. His website is He is available to speak to your group. Email Doug for information on volume discounts for his book and more information.

photo credit: Prawny via