Boy helping woman

Life rewards action.

But even greater rewards await those who orchestrate positive actions. Loving relationships, meaningful work, financial security, time to recreate and a lasting legacy come to those who act to bring them about. Although life isn’t always easy and there are plenty of excuses not to be our best, rewards go to those who let their actions rise above their excuses.

Sometimes our actions get lost in our intentions. Have you ever heard someone say, “I intended to tell her how important she is to our team before she left,” or “I intended to volunteer last weekend,” or “I meant to vote this past election,” or “I intended to keep my commitment, but…?”

Well, the truth is, we judge ourselves by our intentions, but others judge us by our actions.

So, here are three ways to orchestrate your actions.

  1. Have a need?  Help someone succeed.
  2. Move through adversity
  3. Stay connected.

In this post we will address the first of these.

Have a Need? Help Someone Succeed

When we have a need we tend to worry, obsess and continually focus on that need. Maybe it’s a financial need, or a need for recognition, love, a new challenge or companionship. We are typically drawn inward by our needs in hopes that we can somehow come up with a way to meet the need. However, our inward focus often turns into a spiral of despair. We can quickly find ourselves consumed with fret, worry and wallow. This is actually a self-absorbed spiral, not to mention a futile one.

So, the next time you have a need, help someone else succeed by asking the right question. Instead of asking, “What’s in it for me?” ask the WIIFO question: “What’s in it for others?” Get your mind off yourself and direct your actions toward someone else. If you find yourself feeling discouraged, visit children in the hospital or cheer up a friend who is lonely. If you are looking for a job, help someone else with their job search.

If you want to get the best from yourself, first give the best of yourself.

Helping others not only helps you shift your focus outward, but also stimulates feelings of gratitude. There is nothing like a dose of gratitude to pick us up. Most importantly, meeting others’ needs brings out our true spirit–it reflects our positive human character.

But here’s the caveat: If you expect something in return for your help, your act of kindness is really an act of trading favors. Be a giver, not a trader.

The help you give others is an important part of the legacy you leave. If you don’t know where to start, start close to home or work. There is always someone worse-off than you are. If a colleague has a Little League game he needs to attend, pick up his load so he might leave early to get to the game. If a neighbor is not feeling well, buy an extra take-out dinner portion on your way home from work. If a friend is struggling with a relationship, lend an ear. If a young new employee is having trouble adjusting to a new company, offer to show her the ropes. Help is not help until it is given, so turn your intentions to help into acts of help.

Find more in our latest book, Getting the BEST from Yourself and Others.

View sample pages HERE.