You may have heard of the term “pay it forward.” Whether it’s because this is something you practice, or it’s because you saw the 2000 film with Helen Hunt (and cried) – I’m not one to judge!
It’s a philosophy that has become important, yet again, in my life. 2017 was a year filled with disaster and turmoil. The place I’ve called home for the last 18 years was brutally destroyed by Hurricane Irma. Only after I watched many of the people I know and love lose everything, was I reminded of this and have decided to make this something to live by.
What does paying it forward mean?
To pay it forward means to respond to a person’s kindness by being kind to someone else in return. For example, in the film, a young boy makes a positive impact in at least three stranger’s lives in hopes of spreading kindness.
When the original benefactor does not receive payment, but someone in need does – this is what it means to pay it forward.
Why does this matter to me?
A lot of good things happened in 2017, but so did a lot of terrible things. I was reminded of something that happened when I was 18 when I first heard of the pay it forward concept.
I was travelling rural New Zealand with a mate, and well, he turned out to be not so much of a mate after all! The two of us had rented a vehicle and had got into some sort of argument the night before. When you’ve been travelling together for a while and there are a few beverages involved, things can easily escalate.
I ended up sleeping outside some ways off but I heard my “friend” drive away early in the morning. I assumed he was driving into town and picking us up something to eat as an apology, but I turned out to be quite wrong.
After a few hours in the hot sun, I realized that he wasn’t coming back and I would have to find my own way back to civilization.
The kind old New Zealander
After I had been hitchhiking for a few hours, an old man picked me up on the side of the road. I told him my story and he felt pretty awful for me – stuck in the tropics, with not a penny to my name (my money was in the vehicle, which by that time, was long gone).
He drove me to town, bought me lunch, got me a job in one of the pubs, and paid for my first week at a lodge. When I told him that I would pay him back, he told me not to worry, but "pass it on" when I was in a position to do so.
I realize in recent years I may have dropped the ball on what the old man told me to do. Building multiple businesses and raising two spectacular boys have taken up much of my time, and I’m not afraid to say I’ve been a little lacking in this sort of thing. But it’s OK, because better late than never, right?
So I’ve thought up a challenge and I encourage you to do it with me. But first, there are a few more things I need to express, especially when it comes to Hurricane Irma. Stay tuned for the next in this series, as I attempt to even out some of the madness of 2017!
Giles Cadman is Chairman of The Cadman Capital Group, a group of cohesive, complementary companies, operating in the international trade, retail, leisure, and investment markets. Learn more about Giles.