Oprah, Cathy and Career Success

I’m not traveling this week.  I’m working in my home office, setting up my new career success membership site.  That means I got to watch the Oprah tribute shows on Monday and Tuesday.  They were a great tribute to a woman who has done a lot for a lot of people.  I was glad I got to see them — and her farewell show yesterday.

My wife Cathy had an Oprah tribute moment this week too.  On Tuesday, the kids in the fourth grade class where she is a volunteer reading tutor presented her with handmade cards that they read aloud along with a perfect bound book called Reading is Fun With Ms. Cathy! thanking her for her efforts as a reading tutor – and a friend.

Oprah had Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, Jerry Seinfeld, Usher, Beyonce and other celebrities on hand to thank her for her 25 years of television and for giving so much to so many.

Cathy got cards from Grant, Maddie, Sean, Eli, Emma, Skylar, Monique and Josiah for helping them with their reading, for taking the time to learn about them as people, and most important for building their self confidence. 

Sophia said it all…

Ms Cathy…


A Kind Person

How cool is that?  On Tuesday, Cathy wouldn’t have traded places with Oprah!

Both Oprah and Cathy pay it forward.  They do for others with no expectation of return.  Not only is this a great way to live, it is great career success advice.  Tweet 127 in my career advice book Success Tweets says, “Pay it forward.  Build relationships by giving with no expectation of return.  Give of yourself to build strong relationships.”

When you pay it forward you are focusing on we, not me.  When you focus on we, you’ll be able not only to create the life and career success you want and deserve, you will help us all lead better, richer and more fulfilling lives.

In 2009 I participated in a writing project with my colleagues at the Creating WE Institute.  We published a little book called, 42 Rules for Creating WE.  The rules were short essays that contained a lot of great career advice.  I contributed three rules.  One was called, “There is No Quid Pro Quo in WE.”  This rule goes directly to the idea of paying it forward described in Tweet 127.  I’d like to share the career advice in this essay – with a few minor edits – with you here.

WE is built on relationships; the idea that we are all connected, and that through a WE-centric, rather than a traditional I-centric approach, our collective wisdom grows and evolves.  This kind of thinking creates stronger organizations and societies.  It fosters mutual shared respect for the unique contribution every person is capable of making.  Solid, lasting, mutually beneficial relationships are at the core of WE.  Giving with no expectation of return is a great way to create these types of relationships.

This is a quid pro quo world: you do for me and I’ll do for you.  While there is nothing wrong in reciprocating a good deed or a favor, there is a fundamental problem with quid pro quo.  It is reactive not proactive.  Too many people wait for others to go first.  They adopt the attitude, “When and if you do for me, I’ll do for you.”  This scarcity mentality is not conducive to creating WE, or building strong relationships.  When you come from a scarcity mentality, you focus on holding on to what you already have.  This can prevent you from receiving what you might possibly get.

On the other hand, giving with no expectation of return comes from a proactive abundance mentality.  When you give with no expectation of return, you are acknowledging the abundance of the universe.  You are demonstrating faith that the good you do will benefit others close to you and the world at large – and that good things will come back to you.

Giving with no expectation of return is ironic.  I have found that the more I give, the more I receive; often from unlikely sources.  But that’s not my reason for giving – and I hope it is not yours.  The best reason for giving is the basic joy of making a difference in other people’s lives and in creating a WE-centric world.

I love the Liberty Mutual Insurance “responsibility” ads.  They are a very visual demonstration of the ideas behind creating WE – especially giving with no expectation of return.  You’ve probably seen them.

They begin with someone going a little out of his or her way to do something that benefits others; picking up a piece of trash, opening a door for another person who’s hands are full.  Another person observes this and goes out of his or her way for someone else.  The cycle repeats several times during the ad.  The message is clear.  We are all better off when we help each other.

In the end, giving with no expectation of return comes down to your mentality – scarcity or abundance.  If you come from a scarcity mentality, you will live by quid pro quo, and perpetuate the I-centric status quo.  If you come from an abundance mentality, you will give with no expectation of return and begin to create a WE-centric world and create the kind of strong, mutually beneficial relationships that will help you create the life and career success you want and deserve.

I choose abundance and paying it forward.  I agree with Winston Churchill, who once said, “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.”  When you give with no expectation of return you will get a good life.  You’ll also get a better world; one in which we all look out for one another.

Oprah and Cathy are living examples of people who pay it forward.  This week they got back a little of the love they spread.  As Lennon and McCartney said, “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”  How much love had you made today?

The career success coach point here is simple common sense.  Successful people –whether Oprah Winfrey, or my wife Cathy — pay it forward.  To paraphrase Thurgood Marshall, they bend down and help others.  Check out Monday’s blog post to read more about what Justice Marshall has to say on this topic.  If you want to create your life and career success give with no expectation of return.  Use the career advice in Tweet 127 in Success Tweets.  “Pay it forward.  Build relationships by giving with no expectation of return.  Give of yourself to build strong relationships.”  Paying it forward is the opposite of quid pro quo.  When you go first – giving of yourself to help someone else, with no expectations of return – you are laying the foundation for a successful relationship and a better world.  When you wait to reciprocate a good deed by another person, you are engaging in quid pro quo behavior that can result in lost relationship opportunities.  Do yourself a favor, be like Oprah and Cathy.  Follow this common sense career success advice – pay it forward.

That’s the career advice I took from watching the two Oprah tribute shows and Cathy’s tribute from her fourth graders.  What’s your take on this?  Please take a minute to leave a comment sharing your thoughts with us.  As always, thanks for reading my daily thoughts on life and career success.


PS: If you haven’t already done so, you can download a free copy of my latest career success book Success Tweets Explained.  It’s a whopping 390 + pages of career advice explaining each of the common sense tweets in Success Tweets in detail.  Go to http://budurl.com/STExp to claim your free copy.  You’ll also start receiving my daily life and career success quotes.

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