Have you filled any buckets today?

Photo of a yellow bucket
Photo via MarlonBSB via Wikimedia Commons

I had the rare opportunity to have lunch alone with my teenage son yesterday. After bringing him to an orthodontist appointment in the late morning, we had time to stop for a bite to eat on the way back to school. As we ate our lunch, I mentioned that I was behind on writing my blog. He then suggested I write about how leaders and parents need to schedule their work. Ouch.

Instead, I told him I was considering a blog post about How Full is Your Bucket? This book presents the simple metaphor of a bucket, and how, with day-to-day interactions, people either “fill our bucket” by making us feel more positive, or “dip from our bucket,” leaving us feeling more negative. Ideally, our buckets are filled often enough so that there is a reserve to see us through disappointment, put downs, rejection, and so on. My son then chimed in, “So, leaders and parents both need to fill buckets every day.” Absolutely!

The book has an interview with a CEO who believes that bucket filling is his secret weapon. He takes time to understand the contributions individual employees are making, and then makes the effort to thank them in person when he visits their offices. In return, he gets to know his employees better and builds a lasting rapport.

Don’t you think bucket filling can be a secret weapon for parents as well? Our kids face all sorts of challenges when we aren’t around to support them. They might second-guess their outfit once they get to school, they might have forgotten to do a homework assignment, or they might have been benched for most of a game. With a bucket full of positive feedback and love, they should be able to get past the negative emotions that might come their way.

Today, with every interaction you have with another person (your kids, your co-workers, or a clerk at the store), ask yourself if you are adding to or taking away from their buckets. Are you filling as many as you can?


© 2013 by Karen Catlin. All rights reserved.

6 thoughts on “Have you filled any buckets today?

  1. More and more, I am seeing the effect of energy in our interactions, the kind of energy we give to or draw from one another, and the subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) ways in which others give energy to us or draw it from us. It is a strong, powerful intangible that enables much of the tangible to happen, and gives us more power than we can have on our own. Thank you for this post.

    1. So true. Some days we have energy to share, and on other days we need to surround ourselves with people who can share their energy with us. I like the way you connect this to collective power. Marie, you have a gift for writing, and I thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

  2. Love this idea! We are working on a Friendship badge in our Girl Scout Troop. One of the steps of the badge requires using kind words and good listening. I think I may teach the idea of filling someone’s bucket to the girls.

    1. Nice idea! The book’s web site has some tools, such as a list of questions to measure your positive impact on others. (E.g., I helped someone in the last 24 hours, I make unhappy people laugh, I always smile when I meet someone.) Perhaps you could modify their list to give your girl scouts lots of ideas for how they can fill someone’s bucket. You can download a pdf at http://strengths.gallup.com/115186/Full-Bucket-Resources.aspx. Best wishes, and please let me know how it goes!

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