On a recent afternoon, I was watching my 2-year-old, Dorothy, play with a neighbor outside.
The boy climbed up onto a little wall we have on our patio and raced back and forth. Dorothy observed him with admiration and tried to do the same.
“You can’t do it, Dorothy!” I heard him say to her as she gripped the edge.
She struggled, and he doubled down.
“I told you you couldn’t do it!”
After explaining to her friend that we don’t speak to each other like that in our house, I ensured Dorothy that she could, in fact, do it.
She tried again and reached the top.
We all have that little boy in our lives, don’t we? Someone who, for whatever reason, fills us with doubt and uncertainty, leaving us depleted and weary. These are bucket-spillers.
Bucket-fillers, however, do the opposite. With genuine words of encouragement, they fill us with confidence and energy. We are suddenly able to accomplish goals we never thought possible. We become strong, capable and self-assured. For this reason, I keep a steadfast group of bucket-fillers in my life.
They didn’t come easy, however. I’ve spent many years intentionally trying to surround myself with voices of positivity. Here’s how I did it.
I set boundaries with bucket-spillers.
If we’re being honest with ourselves, we know it’s not always possible to phase out all of the people who expend our energy. We have to identify what would make us feel successful in our interactions with those who drain us and set boundaries to achieve that.
Whenever I feel depleted and unbalanced, I very purposefully surround myself with the right people and set appropriate boundaries with bucket spillers until I’m back to full.
I seek out bucket-fillers (even when it’s not convenient).
You may have to sacrifice convenience to be around those who fill you up, but you likely won’t regret that.
I recently took up Orangetheory, a fitness program that leaves me feeling exhausted and accomplished after each workout. One of the coaches at the studio is particularly motivating—I’ve successfully rowed more meters than I ever thought possible with his help—so I make a point to sign up for his classes, even when they aren’t convenient, knowing I’ll leave with energy and momentum to carry me through the day.
You know who your bucket-fillers are. Make sure they’re a consistent part of your life, whether it means scheduling a lunch once a month or simply making a point to drop by the right person’s desk more often.
I try to be a bucket-filler, too!
If you aren’t a bucket-filler, you’re likely a spiller. Be supportive and encouraging in your relationships to perpetuate positivity. Identify when others might need encouragement and optimism and be intentional about offering that.
As Dorothy gripped the wall that afternoon, I knew all she needed was a few cheerful words from a bucket-filler. Once she got them, she reached her goal.
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If you’re struggling to surround yourself with people who fill your bucket, I’m an executive coach who works with clients nationwide. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.