Pay it Forward

Over the last week, I have been the recipient of a few pay it forward experiences.  

Last week, I attended a funeral for the father of my friend John with whom I worked almost 22 years ago. Our working relationship involved training staff at an oceanfront resort to obtain the Five Diamond status. His continuous support for my role there resulted in a strong friendship. Within a few years of our time working together, he moved to the Bahamas to take a job as the general manager of an island yacht club. Five or six years ago, we were both in Fort Lauderdale for business and met for lunch. During our lunch, he invited my wife and me to visit, and when we did a few years later, the red carpet was rolled out for us.

His wife made us “Janana Bread” (her name is Jana and her bread is legendary!) to welcome us. They introduced us to one of the club members who took us fishing and lobstering. John provided all the necessary dive gear for our use while we were there. He also loaned us two bikes so we could bike around the car-free island.

We later came to the island with our entire family and received another dose of John and Jana’s pay-it-forward hospitality.

They exemplify a pay it forward mantra in everything they do. Three weeks ago, John texted to inform me that his father was likely in the final stages of life. We shared messages back and forth for several days. He shared sweet stories of the time he and his four siblings had with their dad. I was traveling home from a keynote in Washington, D.C. two weeks ago when I heard the news. My friend’s father had passed away. I wanted to attend the funeral later that week, but it may not have happened were it not for the kindness of my friend, Mike.   

Mike was a pilot, so when I had the idea to attend the funeral at the 11th hour, I contacted Mike to inquire about getting a buddy pass for the trip since he had offered them before. We worked late into the evening trying to find a flight that fit with my schedule, and one for which he could use one of his allotments of steeply discounted passes. After we found a flight and he gathered all my travel information, he told me to check my email to make sure the trip details and other information were correct. I did and soon realized that Mike had paid full price for my ticket instead of the less-guaranteed stand-by buddy pass. When I protested, Mike said,

I know the last few years have been tough for your business and your family. I can do it and am happy to do it. Just pay it forward.”  

Just a few days later, I was in Wichita, Kansas, and experienced another pay it forward experience. A speaking colleague had recommended I visit Doo Dah Diner which happened to be right across the street from my hotel. I was pressed for time the morning of my return flight, but I still needed breakfast. I called ahead to get my order started and walked across the street with my luggage as I had planned to hail a ride from the restaurant to the airport. 

Eating at a diner means eating at the counter – at least for me. I loved the feel and look of Doo Dah Diner so I engaged in a conversation with the general manager Patrick, “PK”, who told me the history of Doo Dah’s including how he and his wife moved from Denver to work there.  

After I finished eating, I placed my credit card on the counter for my payment, which Patrick offered to process so I could get on my way quickly. A few short seconds later he said, “your bill has been paid.” When I asked what he meant, he said I owed nothing for my meal. “What do you mean?” I asked. I pressed my server and learned that a gentleman named Jeff, who was sitting at the end of the counter, had seen my luggage and overheard my conversation with PK.

Jeff knew that I was a first-time visitor to Wichita and he wanted me to leave with a positive impression of the area, so he paid for my breakfast. Before heading to the airport, PK handed me a Doo Dah Diner shirt for me—a physical reminder to practice paying it forward. 

I have experienced the unexpected generosity of others in many ways. My recent experiences remind me that it is my time to pay it forward. How about you? 

Though Easter Sunday has passed, it is a reminder that the ultimate sacrifice was made for all of us. Some have done without so you could have. The kindness of others has been demonstrated and perhaps not acknowledged. An unexpected act has brightened your day or been a source of encouragement. Much has been given to you, now it is your turn to do for someone else. It’s time to pay it forward. 

NOTE: This post was supposed to be the second in a series of my six-by-six plan (here’s the first post titled Read to Succeed.

Recent pay it forward experiences interrupted altered this schedule but I will continue the series in my next post. Please subscribe to receive notifications of future PAUSitivity newsletters.