Most people we know have seen the 2000 Kevin Spacey/Helen Hunt movie "Pay It Forward". For those unfortunate few who have not, it's a touching movie about giving before you receive. Critics panned it but the majority of moviegoers liked it according to Flixster.
Nonetheless, whether you are a fan or not, the movie brought into the modern lexicon of "Paying it Forward". Give, donate, and don't ask for payment for your giving. It will all come back to you in spades. We firmly believe in that concept.
But, there is another idea that is also important and we, in the modern world dominated by pop icons and kitschy trends, sometimes forget to... "Pay It Back"
During the past couple weeks, at a series of coffee meetings, at various Starbucks around our city, an interesting and wonderful scene kept repeating itself.
When you see two people together who seem similar, the young business professionals sharing their coffee break, the older couple relaxing, the students connecting over a java, your brain observes, and then moves on and you go back to whatever you were there for yourselves.
But when you observe a couple that seem diametrically different, you take more notice, and the need to stretch your ear takes over. (Com'on-you've all done it at least once!)
What on earth does the older and stereotypical "old boys school" businessman have in common with the young college age girl who is obviously not related? How about the young immigrant who struggles with English, with the man who looks like he just walked out of a Fortune 500 boardroom? Or, the police officer walking in and buying coffee for the guy in flip flops and cutoffs?
Three times, as we were sitting sipping our tea and macchiato, we were drawn to this similar scene; two people who don't look connected yet are obviously in deep conversation.
And in all three situations, it was one person mentoring the other. All three of the younger people were voicing their frustration at some situation that was meaningful to them-usually at work. The other person then walked them through the situation with words of wisdom.
One of the greatest lines we heard in a long time, from one of the conversations was "...I'm helping you advance the skills you have...and you'll do the same thing later in your career."
They had achieved some level of success and now were paying it back.
Yes "paying it back" may sound passé but remember we all bring experiences that may benefit someone else. As you move along in your careers and in your life, it's not just about "Paying It Forward". It's also about "Paying it Back".
Become a mentor and give back to those who can benefit from your life experiences. Everyone will be rewarded.
Until next time...