Monday, December 31, 2007

"Fill 'Er Up Please!"

You don’t see many full service stations around much anymore, do you? Well, at least not here in the Midwest anyway. Maybe it’s because as a society, we are becoming more independent. Or, maybe as a business, service stations didn’t feel it was value added to the customer. Or, (I hope this isn’t the case), maybe customers became less grateful over the years, and failed to tip well. I haven’t done any research on the subject, so I really have no idea what the reasoning is. All I know is that I could remember a time when my parents would roll down their windows and say “Fill ‘er Up Please…..Unleaded will do just fine,” (sorry if I have dated some of you ;)). But now, you just don’t hear that anymore.

So what’s the point, you ask? Well, for some reason, this service station scenario popped into my head while I was reading the book How Full is Your Bucket, by Tom Rath and Donald Clifton. Well, not so much the service station, as the automobiles that come in for the fuel. See, in the book, the authors really stress the importance of filling others’ buckets with positive events (hence, the “Fill ‘er Up Please” quote). See, everyone has this internal bucket, and others can either dip from the bucket with negatives, or fill the bucket with positives. As others dip from your bucket, you lose motivation, become less productive, and in turn continue the cycle as you begin to dip from others. However, as other people fill your bucket with positive interactions and comments, your morale increases, your productivity increases, and the workplace can become a more thriving workplace. In fact, they have researched and researched and realized that the magic ratio is 5:1. That is, production becomes most efficient at 5 positive interactions, to every one negative interaction.

So, how does this relate to a car? Let’s think about this a minute. Your car needs to be constantly filled with fuel (the positives) to be able to produce (that is run). If your fuel tank (the car’s bucket) runs out of those positives, then it stops. It can’t perform. Isn’t this similar to humans? As people constantly introduce negatives into our world, don’t we begin to perform less and less, until at some point, our bucket becomes empty and we just give up? Apathy sets in? We have to be conscious of this, and remember that people need praise and need to be “filled up.”

I want to recommend this book to all of you. It has really opened my eyes as to how I interact with others. It’s amazing what very minor changes in both verbal and nonverbal cues can do. It can mean the difference between a negative experience and a positive one for others. Remember, as you fill others’ buckets, yours will be filled as well!

What do you think? Do you agree with this book? Let me know your thoughts, so we can begin a discussion!


Andrew B. Clark said...

I'd say the theory is spot on. I plan on going out as soon as I recover from the holidays and get the book to verify, though.

I'm a true believer in the give and take in building relationships. If you continually deplete your contacts and their efforts, then the ride is over.

Great Suggestion!
Keep Cooking!


Tom Magness said...

Concur! I call it making deposits. We need to have strong positive balances with people before we can make withdrawals. Too many withdrawals or negative balances (or empty buckets) and people will perform poorly. Worse yet they will go to another bank! Hooah!

Anonymous said...

Tom - I love the other bank comment! I personally have really bought into this book because of the science behind it. I am anxious to read other books by Dr. Clifton and his grandson.

Eric - First, I miss seeing you and Erik in class; it's been fun:) Second, crazy analogy! I think we really do have to look at ourselves as the gas station attendants to the world servicing their tanks. Tip or no tip;) Good luck with the bowling!

Robyn McMaster said...

I have found that filling other peoples' buckets makes me full within. So many people feel empty as they try to fill themselves.

Eric as you so well point out, you "fill 'er up" as you give out to others!

Nice to meet you and find your excellent posts.

Eric Peterson said...

Andrew - It is a great book! It sounds so simple and "common sensical" (is sensical a word?), but I think many forget that it is important. It is about give and take...but I think we need to really focus on the give! I used to be a great taker, but am constantly striving to change that!

Tom - Your bank analogy is great! I love it. We do need to make sure we are making more deposits than withdrawals!

Bob - Thanks for stopping by again. I haven't seen a whole lot of you lately! I appreciate your tip as well. We should be the full service gas station attendants of the world! Hopefully more people will visit the comments to get yours and Tom's added input into the analogy.

Robyn - Thank you for stopping by. I appreciate it. And, you are right on! As we give to others, we in turn fill up our own buckets and become more satisfied with our own lives!
P.S. - Thank you for your post on meeting challenges in 2008. It was a motivational read for me as I sat down to set a couple of 2008 goals