When was the last time that you “Paid it Forward?” I don’t mean the last time that you owed someone a favor, did something good because it was expected of you, or maybe helped someone because you knew you had an audience. I am talking about the last time that you–without any agenda or preconceived plan–did something for a complete stranger with only the purest intention to simply bless them. If you’re like me, it might take a second, and a few head scratches, to remember.
It’s no secret that the society we live in is made up of, and filled with, a “selfie” mentality; it’s all about me. How can I get ahead? How can I get what I want? How can I be the best? And so continues the narcissistic questions. We have been bred to give first attention to our own personal agendas, and then maybe–if the stars align correctly–consider the needs of others. But if you really think about it, what kind of lasting fulfillment does that bring? You’re constantly wanting to feed this mentality more and more, so I would say, the fulfillment is ultimately lacking.
I was recently reminded of a “Pay it Forward” moment several years ago that will always be special to me. It was a Monday night, and I was at the Smoothie King Arena in New Orleans supporting one of my NBA clients at the time, Suns player, Devin Booker. One of the perks of working with professional athletes is the ease of getting tickets and post-game passes. To specific people in the industry, these are assets that more or less come with the job, but for those who aren’t, these can serve as a once in a lifetime memory.
It was during that season that I had started a “tradition” (one of my absolute favorites to this day) of scouring game crowds to find fans who I could surprise with post-game passes to meet Devin. Being that we were in Pelicans territory that night, the fans in Suns gear were by far the minority of attendees. Nonetheless, I ended up spotting a family decked out in purple and orange #1 (Devin’s number) apparel. I figured that this sweet boy and his family had to know Devin somehow based on their court side seats and clear love for this player. That was it, my selection had been made.
After the game, I quickly learned–based on the encounter–that RJ and his family were simply die-hard Booker and Suns fans. The only connection that existed between this player and that family was the fact they lived in the Mississippi town where Devin had gone to high school.
The reality of that situation was that it was effortless for me to have my client leave a few extra post-game passes to give away; access that otherwise would have been nearly impossible due to game security measures and protocol. The result and reaction, on the other hand, write a completely different story. Getting to witness a fan meeting their NBA “hero” is hard to put into words, but when an experience like that comes as a complete surprise, it’s priceless.
I offer up this story as an amazing reminder to never take things within your power for granted. Use your talents, abilities, and influence to change lives around you, or simply make someone’s day a little brighter. The irony that comes with this idea of “Paying it Forward” is that people typically compare it to the term of “paying someone/something back”–an act of duty that is owed from a previous instance. Paying it forward breaks this debtor mentality, and instead of owing for something in the past, you are setting into motion blessings still yet to come in the future.
Keep your eyes open, and go #payitforward!