Reap What You Sow
A couple months ago, I shared how sick my dad was and how the time was near. That day came at the end of March. It’s OK to feel sad for me for a minute, but instead of sorrow, I’m inviting you to feel the same joy and relief I do. My dad led a full life of 82 years, and he is truly in a better place. Dementia stole the last three years of his life and nearly took my mother down with him as she spent every waking (and sleeping) hour watching over him and his deterioration. The outpouring of support we experienced and reflection on why that support materialized is what led me to the topic for this month’s column – the concept of reaping what you sow and how to receive more good karma.
I wish you could have seen my mom’s kitchen counters and dining room table – there was enough food there to feed several families for weeks, and the people that came to show their support was truly awe-inspiring. That is the product of all the deep, caring relationships my parents have built over the years and the help my mom and dad have dished out through all their lives.
It’s such a simple concept, and I’ve gotten a front row seat to my mom’s version of the axiom: she is harvesting the seeds that she and my father sowed for many years and for many people, including me! The same is true in our business lives. If we want to create positive karma for our businesses, we must send that good karma into the universe. But how do we know we’ll get it back?
What started as mere curiosity led me down two different intellectual thought-provoking paths – one of them physics and the other human nature. On the physics path, I’m reminded of Newton’s Third Law: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Said another way, in every interaction there is a pair of forces acting on the two interacting objects. The size of the forces on the first object equals the size of the forces on the second object.
I won’t digress into a full-on physics lesson, but for our purposes, all we need from Newton is to assert that the size of the action is matched by the size of the equal reaction. The size could either be the magnitude of a single event or totality of a whole series of events. That’s where the human nature path is more useful to make my point.
I’ve spoken before in these pages about how humans are built to mirror each other and that we all have a strong, deeply instinctive drive to respond in-kind. We simply cannot help returning the favor, it’s in our nature. What I witnessed as an outpouring of support for my mom and dad was merely an equal and opposite reaction to the support they’ve shown many people through the years.
Here is the point for me, and how this all applies to my business and yours: We have total control over the magnitude of forces coming back at us. If we want a gigantic groundswell of support, respect and adoration, we must first send that karma and energy OUT into the world. The size and scope of that effort will ultimately determine how human nature and physics return the favor. There is no free lunch; a small effort will yield small results, but a huge effort will surely yield huge results.
But we must be careful. As an eternal optimist, I’m always looking at the bright side, which naturally leads me to think about positive karma and positive results. However, the same is true for negative karma and negative results. If we send negative energy into the universe, it’s going to be met with an equal and opposite result. So, starting today, I’m going to operate with more intention.
I’m going to stop waiting for results, and I’m going to start sending MORE positive energy into the universe, because I know the effort will be matched. I no longer have to worry if my efforts will be rewarded, because I can know for certain, what I send, I will get back. Of course, I won’t know the timing or the nature of the returned force, that will be up to others to decide.
My new truth boils down to a simple and balanced equation: I choose the type and intensity of the karma I deliver, and others will match that intensity in their own unique way. This explains why my mother’s friends didn’t all deliver chocolate chip cookies this week. They delivered flowers, chocolate covered almonds, lasagna and lots and lots of hugs.
In a quiet moment, before the emotional roller coast of the funeral began, I realized my father had delivered one more lesson – that you reap what you sow and if you want a line out the door to pay respects, you’d better get started putting a huge deposit in the positive karma of the universe. I’m all in. Thank you (again), Dad!