Investing in people in something that has become quite rare, I think. But I believe it should be a priority. Tony Dungy, a Super Bowl winning NFL coach and author said in his book, The Mentor Leader that “If you’re a leader, people’s lives should be better because of the influence you’ve had along the way.”. I believe it should go one step further into “ALL people’s lives should be better because of the influence you’ve had along the way.”. Are you a person living in such a way that other people’s lives are better? If not, how can you do that? What does it look like?
Learn their Name!
One of the first, most simple ways to invest in a person is simply to learn their name! It is truly amazing how it can make a person feel when you invest in them enough to know their name. I find it easiest to remember names if I know something about that person. Some people finding repeating their name several times in the first conversation helpful. Whatever your trick, use it!
I once worked in a company with over 300 teenage employees. When I started there, they would line up to get their paychecks after telling their name, week after week. It was so impersonal it made me really sad. So, I took to the time to learn one thing about each of them. Before they knew it, I was handing them their paychecks at their desks while they continued with their work. I know that they appreciated the fact that I took the time to classify them as a person who mattered, and not just another number collecting a paycheck. Once you learn their name, learn how to spell it, pronounce it, and maybe even their spouse, kids or dogs name too. It brings them to life as a real person who really truly matters in this world. That one small act can make the difference between them feeling like they matter or that their existence in this world is futile.
Listen and Remember…
So, you know their name…now what? Well, listen to them and remember things they tell you. In a positive way. Are they starting a new job? Tell them you hope they have a great first day or ask them about it after they start. Do they have a sick family member? Remember to ask how that person is doing. Do they have kids in sports? Check in to see how the season is going. Do they have a vacation coming up? Ask about it when they return. Investing in learning about people, investing in being a part of their lives is so rewarding. The smile you get when they realize they matter to you is absolutely priceless. You never know, you may be the only person who checks in on them. That is so vital. Each of us LONGS to matter and be checked on.
Listen Between the Lines
So you’ve listened to them talk (which requires NOT always being the one talking, I know, it takes a lot of practice!). What do you do now? Well, now you listen to what they don’t say. Often times in passing people will mention things that are hurting them inside. Maybe they will tell you something is difficult for them with a smile on their face. Or maybe they will tell you they’ve been wanting something but just don’t have the money for it. They will tell you the desires of their heart if you just listen. With that information, you can get them the perfect birthday gift. You can pray for them. Or maybe you could stop by with some flowers when you know they’re having a tough time. Seek them out to check out how they’re doing. Invite them over to learn something new that comes easy to you. By taking the time to observe and listen between the lines, you can show how much you care in a deeply personal way. Most of the time they won’t even know how you knew the perfect gift or timing, but if you really listen, you can be there just when they need you!
Time is of the Essence
So, all of these things require something big. Something most of us don’t like to share. What is it you may ask? YOUR TIME. Take the time to stop by with a small token of a gift. Make the extra effort to send the card. Pick up the phone when they call. Be available to drive them somewhere when they don’t have the means. Take the time to Invest in People. It is one of the most rewarding things you can ever do. You may even end up making the best friend you’ve always wished you’d meet. You might just change someone’s life radically for the better. Or maybe you just make them feel loved the one day they needed it most. It is always worth it.
Vital Side Note:
***Big side note: When you invest in people, make sure that you set boundaries. Don’t allow yourself to become a doormat. Do allow yourself to love them. Don’t allow them to steal all of your time. Do allow yourself time to refill your cup. Investing in people doesn’t have to take all of your energy, but it does take some. Take extra care to find the balance, especially if this is a new concept for you.***