I first heard the expression ‘pay it forward’ about 20 years ago. Had no idea what it meant at the time, but with a bit of thought I managed to get the general idea. It basically means to perpetuate the good karma, but in one direction, not back the way it came. In other words, you did something nice for me, so I’ll do something nice for that bloke over there, he’ll do something nice for someone else, and eventually it will come full circle and someone will do something nice for you. And it won’t be directly related to what you did for me, but it will be the eventual result of you doing a good deed in the first place.
It’s a great concept, really. I’ve always struggled with that whole ‘You did me a favour now I need to do you one or pay you for it somehow’ kind of thing. I mean, if someone does you a favour, it’s a favour, there shouldn’t be any payment or reward. But if you like someone, and appreciate what they did for you, it’s quite often very hard to work out a way to show that appreciation appropriately. The value to you may be enormous, whereas it was nothing to them. Conversely, they may have really put themselves out to help, albeit willingly, but the difference to you had they not, might not have been as great.
And then there’s always that Mafia concept – some people like to do favours so that they end up ‘owning’ you. I tend to keep away from that type – for obvious reasons!
But today I want to pay it forward directly. Or pay it back. You see, I had help recently from a fellow business operator and I really feel the need to mention it.
When you’re in business for yourself in a small community like ours, it can go one of two ways – you can get on with your fellow businesses, or not. And when those fellow businesses are in the same sort of field you’re in, it can get tricky.
I’m lucky. Those that I want to get on with I don’t seem to have any problems with, and so it came to pass some weeks ago I needed help accessing data in an old computer program on some old Mac-formatted zip drives.
I had bumped into a small business person reading the paper in his car in the local shopping centre carpark who seemed perfect for the job – his car signage told me so. I introduced myself, told him my problem, and he seemed to think there was a good chance he could help. I didn’t quite have my hands on the discs at that stage, so not quite sure what I was facing, but I took his card, and when I knew for sure I needed his help, I called. Straight to voicemail. I left a message. No response. I emailed. I waited. No response.
So then I recalled someone I’d known for some years – Vent Thomas of iVent Services. I gave Vent a call and told him my problem. He told me to drop by when I was next in the area and he would do what he could. And this lovely, giving man did – he managed to access each of the discs and drop the stuff into a readable format onto my USB stick, and now we’re able to republish our client’s books for him – books which were almost locked away forever on outdated technology.
If someone does me a wrong, I don’t go after them – I let karma take care of it. I know that sometimes I will never find out how karma handled it for me, but I trust that it will be done. And conversely, if I can’t find an appropriate way to repay a favour, without it looking like I’m trying to ‘balance the books’, I again trust that karma will take of it.
But this time, I need to pay it forward publicly. While I trust karma to take care of Vent in a good way, I just want to add a little more push, just for insurance, because he’s a good bloke and he deserves it.