People who thrive despite life being difficult have some important characteristics in common, and one of them is that they are contributors. Let’s look at what that might mean.
At work they tend to do more than just what is required. They extend themselves in the interests of the team or the business. They take on more responsibility and put their hands up for projects – both those that are cool and interesting and those that are dull but must be done. They help and support others, and coach and guide newcomers, strugglers and those who show potential. They develop their own skills so that they can take on more, and are visible in their work spaces. Because of what they contribute, the team is stronger, their manager feels supported and better work gets done. They take personal responsibility for their own performance and are open to feedback from their manager and others. They will give consideration to the feedback and make appropriate changes if necessary.
In their most important intimate relationship they make an effort to ensure that their significant other feels seen, special and important. They don’t take this relationship for granted and they make sure that they pick up at least their share of the load, if not more. They see this relationship as a top priority, and treat it as such. They recognise that it is the happiness of their partner that is the measure of their own success as a partner. Do they always get it right? No. But they are open to feedback from their partner, and will respond appropriately.
They are active parents, recognising that the most important job of a parent is to mould their children into capable, confident contributors to society. This means that they actively develop their children’s values and talk about what values-based behaviour looks like. They have clear boundaries and are able to provide natural and logical consequences to breaches of those boundaries. They teach their children to communicate with people in authority, solve problems and have tricky conversations. Very importantly, they teach their children how to deal with bullies. Bullies will be found in every walk of life, and we need to have tactics for dealing with this. They will step in if it is truly necessary, but their preferred approach is to contribute to their children’s own efficacy in such situations. A feature of this type of parent – child relationship is that they tend to have lots of conversations about lots of topics. These are conversations in which ideas and thoughts are explored – real chats and not lectures. They are also present in their children’s activities – sports, culture, academic, etc.
People who thrive have friends, and make an effort in their friendships – they give of themselves and their time in generous ways. They see friendships as worth the effort and you can be sure that their friends know that they are valued. Of course, not all friendships last a lifetime. Most are for a season – and they are ok with that.
Finally, people who thrive contribute in their communities. They are good neighbours and active citizens. They get involved in community groups like neighbourhood watch and the ratepayers’ association. They support their neighbours and understand that they have a contribution to make in ensuring that their neighbourhood is taken care of.
What is it about Contribution that makes the difference? I think it is that we are happier when our attention is on others – not at the expense of ourselves, but because it is good for our well-being. It takes our attention off our own grumbles and struggles. Furthermore, when we contribute we always get something back. Happy partner, happy boss, happy children, happy social life – they are all the product of contribution.
So here’s my challenge to you. In which of your relationships are you coasting? Doing no more than the basics? What is needed from you and what will you actually do?
If you recognise that you need to become more of a contributor in various aspects of your life, but don’t know where to start, email me on firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s discuss your coaching programme.