Today, I put five nickels in my pocket.
Now, you may be thinking that five nickels (25 cents) won't do me much good. After all, there is hardly anything that can be purchased for that amount, not even a stamp. But I believe my five nickels are going to buy me a lot.
I believe that 25 cents, which I found rattling around at the bottom of my purse, will by the end of the day have a) made me feel good; b) be a great investment in my career; and c) perhaps help someone else do great things.
That's a pretty powerful 25 cents, right? Maybe you think this is some sort of magical group of nickels, but that's not the case. Let me tell you how it works.
Many years ago I remember talking to a manager of a large company who put 10 dimes in his left pocket every morning. Each time he complimented someone, he moved one of the dimes to his right pocket. His goal: to have all the dimes in his right pocket by the end of the day. The next day, he did the same thing, again putting the 10 dimes in his left pocket.
I began thinking about this manager's story after I interviwed Bob Burg, author of the new bestseller, "The Go-Giver." The book, written in the parable style that is popular today, tells the story of how one man learned that if he wanted to have true success and happiness, he had to look at life in terms of not what he could take from others, but from what he could give.
So, that's why I've decided to load my left pocket with five nickels. (I decided to start with only a quarter's worth of goodwill since I wanted to keep my efforts honest and not assault some stranger on the street with "love the hat!" and then switch a coin from one pocket to the other. I'm hoping to work up to the 10 dimes.)
I also came up with my own rules. Instead of it just being compliments, my criteria for moving a nickel from the left pocket to the right pocket includes that I:
1. Make a sincere effort to connect. When I speak with someone on the phone today, or exchange e-mails, I will try and find out a little bit more about this person -- how they do their job and the challenges they face.
2. Add value. When I make a connection, I will look for ways to help this person do his or her job. That means I may offer a name, phone number or e-mail address, refer someone to a helpful Web site or just offer a new idea.
3. Offer positive feedback. OK, I think everyone (especially on a Monday) deserves a pat on the back. According to my personal rules, this has to be as work-related as possible, because it's too easy to tell someone "wow...you look great today!" and then do a nickel switch. I will be looking for ways that each person's abilities and talents add to an experience.
That's it. Pretty simple, huh? I wanted to keep it that way so it could become an effortless part of my day, something I wouldn't stress out about every time I heard the change rattle in my pocket. I don't plan on "keeping score" of who or what caused me to make a nickel switch -- I'm just hoping that by the end of the day, my left pocket is empty and my right pocket contains five nickels.
I think it may be the most valuable 25 cents I've ever had.