2 min read

Filling up each others’ cups

Filling up each others’ cups
Photo by Braden Barwich / Unsplash

A few months ago I started working with someone whom I absolutely love working with. Since our first day on the project together, he has consistently made an effort to make me feel included, supported, and celebrated.

Coming back from the holidays has brought about a variety of emotions at work. Some people seem refreshed and energized, but most are just sad that vacation is over.

I had a meeting today with this person. Others were running late, so I took the opportunity to share that I was excited to see him because of his constant positive energy. He mentioned that it isn’t something that is always easy, but life is hard enough, so why be negative and make it any harder? He also told me that being positive isn’t something that comes naturally, but like any skill, you can get better at it by being intentional and putting in the effort.

He told me a story about a previous job where he had to work with a difficult colleague. This person was consistently terrible to work with, and everyone at the office hated having to interact with them. One day, during a standup meeting, this colleague got absurdly frustrated at everyone. You could feel the tension in the room, but instead of backing away, he got really curious.

Out of curiosity, he said, “It sounds like something is really stressful. How can I help? Let’s end standup now and discuss how we can make things better.”

In a private conversation, the colleague mentioned that they had just lost a big contract and was really concerned about their family’s financial well-being. This was the first time anyone had reached out to ask. After this conversation, the colleague quickly became more positive at work. They eventually became one of the most reliable people on the team.

It was a lesson to him that you never truly know what someone else is going through. Simply by getting curious about someone’s negative behavior, we could potentially have a huge impact in turning things around. Since that interaction, he has made an intentional effort to practice being positive, and years later, it has become a part of who he is.

The story reminded me of an Oprah quote I read recently:

People who want the best for you want you to be your best. So my greatest advice to you is to surround yourself with people who are going to fill your cup until your cup runneth over.

I really value being surrounded by people who actively celebrate each others’ success and look for ways to fill up each others’ cups. We all know those magical people who are just a joy to be around. It feels like just by spending time with them, you become a little more magical yourself.

I learned today that those magical people aren’t just born that way. Like building any skill, becoming a regular ray of sunshine is a deliberate and effortful process. However, that also means that it is learnable, particularly when we surround ourselves with people who support us and we want to support right back. Let’s make 2024 a year filled with more magic and fuller cups for everyone.