how full is your bucket summary

Book Notes: How Full Is Your Bucket by Tom Rath and Donald Clifton

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by Donald Clifton and Tom Rath

Publication: 2004 by Gallup Press New York

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Business | Psychology

My rating:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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Resonating Quotes

So we face a choice every moment of every day: We can fill one another’s buckets, or we can dip from them. It’s an important choice — one that profoundly influences our relationships, productivity, health, and happiness.

The magic ratio: 5 positive interactions for every 1 negative interaction.

If you want people to understand that you value their contributions and that they are important, the recognition and praise you provide must have meaning that is specific to each individual.

Theory of Dipper and the Bucket

In the 1950s, the field of psychology gives too much attention to what’s wrong with people. Donald Clifton (now the Father of Strengths Psychology) discovered that interactions with others shape people’s lives. A conversation with a loved one or with a stranger both make a difference – sometimes positive and sometimes negative. Although these interactions might seem to be ineffectual, Clifton believed that they profoundly affect our lives.

Before his death in 2003, he and his grandson, Tom Rath, wrote How Full Is Your Bucket? to help people focus on what’s positive rather than emphasizing weaknesses. In the 1960s, he developed the Theory of Dipper and the Bucket. According to this theory, each person has an invisible bucket that is constantly emptied or filled. When it’s empty, we feel terrible. When it’s filled, we feel happy. A full bucket gives us a positive outlook and an empty bucket poisons our outlook. Those who apply the bucket metaphor in their lives had a lasting impact on their closest relationships and jobs.

How People Dip Into Buckets

  • “…negative emotions can be harmful to your health and might even shorten your life span.” 
  • “Active disengagement is widespread in workplaces around the world.”
  • “Just one negative person can bring down our well-being.”
  • “A manager can eliminate almost all of the active disengagement in the workplace if he or she focuses on an employee’s strengths.”
  • “When the manager ignored their employee’s strengths, there’s a 40% chance of them being actively disengaged in the job. When the manager focuses on strengths, there was just a 1% chance of that employee being very negative on the on.”
  • “Lack of appreciation is the #1 reason people leave their jobs.”
  • “Negative employees can scare off every customer”
  • “Bad bosses increase the risk of stroke of employees by 33%.”

The Joy of Filling People’s Buckets

  • “One study conducted in 2008, illustrated how one person’s happiness continues to have a significant impact at a third-degree separation.”
  • “If you want people to understand that you value their contributions and that they are important, the recognition and praise you provide must have meaning that is specific to each individual.” 
  • “Employees who receive recognition and praise: increase productivity and engagement, more likely to stay in their job, receive higher loyalty and satisfaction scores from customers, better safety records.”
  • “9 out of 10 say they are more productive when they’re surrounded by positive people.”
  • “According to scientist Daniel Kahneman, we experience approximately 20, 000 moments every day. That means we have many opportunities to fill other buckets daily.”
  • “Don’t waste the opportunity. Make a difference.”

Importance of Bucket Filling

While working for The Gallup Organization, the Clifton & Rath surveyed more than 4 million employees worldwide on this topic, including more than 10,000 business units and more than 30 industries. Their studies led them to discover that individuals who receive regular recognition and praise:

  • makes work productive
  • increased engagement and satisfaction
  • are happier, healthier, and well that leads to a longer life
  • have better safety records and fewer accidents on the job

Five Strategies for Creating a More Positive Organization

Strategy 1: Prevent Bucket Dipping

Try consciously to catch yourself in the act of bucket dipping (actions that can hurt others) — then stop it. Convince others to do the same.

Strategy 2: Shine a Light on What Is Right

Make a list of those people who are making a difference, write them weekly ‘thank you’ notes. Notice what people do well and find ways to praise their achievements.

Strategy 3: Make Best Friends

Welcome trusting and supporting relationships.

Strategy 4: Give Unexpectedly

Offer your time, praise, and credit for contributions others made spontaneously. Listen carefully to what people say. Bucket filling is not scripted.

Strategy 5: Reverse the Golden Rule

Do for others what THEY would like. Think about specific kinds of recognition for each people.

How Full Is Your Bucket Review

A well-researched, light-read book. My thesis is also about positive psychology so it is a great help for me as a do my research. I liked the anecdotes which inspired me to improve my work life as well as strengthen my relationships more.

I recommend this book to people who lives in a culture of negativity but want to how to focus on the positive instead of emphasizing what’s wrong.

Note: Tom Rath and Mary Rechmeryer have written a book for children called, How Full is Your Bucket? For Kids.

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