People ask me, "What does it take to practice the 5 Buckets Principle? How do I start filling the buckets of health and wellness, family and friends, work, giving back, and finances so they are all 80 percent full?" It is a process that works when you apply the following practices (in no particular order, as they are all equally important):
1. Learn, learn, and make mistakes!
I have returned to school for Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses program and while school and homework can put me over the edge at times, I'm energized by what I'm learning. I have definitely made mistakes with assignments, which I embrace even if I feel a little embarrassed. Learning can come in various ways. Traditional, like I am doing by returning to school, or non–traditional like book clubs, conferences, YouTube, and networking sessions.
2. Be nice.
This sounds so cliché, but it is amazing how every bucket gets a bit fuller with kindness. There is a whole school of thought called “Leading by Kindness.” Have role models in your life that are consistently nice. And I mean no matter what. The Kindness factor is the most important when life is really getting you down. Once my mom’s neighbor was having a tantrum over the fact that a can had rolled onto her yard. She exclaimed that she was calling the police and that was that. Instead of doing what most of us would do, argue or yell back, my mom apologized and affirmed the imposition. Her neighbor was taken aback, said it was okay, and let it go! Your leadership score will rise if you handle aggressive, arrogant, interrupting employees by thanking them for their energy. Keeping your cool is impressive. Figure out ways, words, and actions to speak kindly and do nice deeds.
3. Be overly generous.
Give! And I mean with time, money, and passion. Help everyone and anyone. Some of you will disagree—you don't have the resources, you've been burned, or you haven't seen any results. It isn’t about what you get from being generous; the reward is solely in how it feels to give. Sure, I get overwhelmed from time to time with activities, but when I stop to think, I realize this is my legacy, this is what I am leaving, and this is why I am living. Then I get energized because I have been able to help so many others. That energy helps me fill my other buckets in ways I never imagined.
4. Cry and laugh.
We live in a world that is so happy as well as terribly sad. Show emotions, speak emotions, and watch how others will respond. As I write this, my dad is critically sick. He is my best friend in the world. I feel devastated. In sharing that devastation, clients, employees, and strangers feel a bond. They tell me stories of when they were devastated and how they handled it. This strengthens all my relationships and moves me and others I encounter to a different level. For some of my clients, teaching them to identify and express their emotions is the hardest task they will ever do!
Commitment is the cost of the four basic steps to making your buckets are level. Remember, I am not suggesting you strive to fill your buckets 100 percent (as a matter of fact, that’s not good, as it is a sign of perfectionism.) I am saying that keeping each of the buckets 80 percent full is much easier if we adhere to the guidelines above. As always, send comments, suggestions and disagreements to me!
Wendy Kaufman is the President and Founder of Balancing Life’s Issues, a national corporate training company. She can be reached at email@example.com.