The Butterfly Effect

Everybody needs a “leg up” from time to time. Of course the “leg up” is not to be confused with the “leg over”, but we all need that too! A “leg up” means to help someone to be more successful. It is a simple, concise image and it evokes a quick, physical remedy. It means that you go out of your way to try to improve another persons’ life. It could be the smallest of gestures or the writing of a fat hefty check, but the result is the same – you improve someone else’s existence. The result of your actions is a better world for someone else. Whether you like it or not, at some stage in life you will be called on to give someone a “leg up”. You may not be fully aware of it at the time, but there will be moments when you could make a tiny bit of extra effort and help someone change their mind, which in turn helps them make a better decision in trying times. Although we are not conscious of the chain of events which follow our actions, at some point we must accept that what we say and do can have a positive or negative effect on someone. Do you want to be responsible for giving someone a “leg up” or a kick in the arse?

Not that there is anything wrong with giving someone a kick in the arse from time to time. The best man managers understand that you cannot treat everyone the same. Some people need an arm around them and encouragement; others need a tough firm authority figure. Some people just need a gentle nudge in the right direction and to feel like they are empowered. Everyone is different and that is the beauty of this existence. I suppose I should tell you why I am writing this blog today. I received an email the other day and the words I read really got me thinking again. The author of the words had taken the time to sit down and tell me what they thought of Sober Paddy. The words were encouraging and it had a dramatic affect on me. Like all things in life at some stage, I was questioning Sober Paddy itself. I was neglecting it. I was letting it slide. I was forgetting about it and allowing it to mellow away in the back of the barnyard. It never crossed my mind to go back on the drink, but I was not seeing how my words and thoughts were making any difference. This one solitary email has kick started my mojo again.

It is quite commonly known amongst the child educators of the world, that positive reinforcement allows children/students/people to see that what they are doing is noticed, approved, desired and to be repeated. Encouraging kids when they are trying hard is vital to maintain their interest in “trying hard”. When your staff members work particularly hard during a busy period, it is important to recognize that and reward that pattern of behaviour. It enforces the idea that their hard work is good, worthy and to be repeated. In the hectic lifestyles that most of us live, it is often very easy to overlook the obvious people around us. It is really easy to ignore the effort that your family make for you. It is a simple thing to forget to encourage people. It is a simple thing to forget about why people are trying to give you a “leg up”. The most important thing for me to observe, is whether my response to these peoples efforts on my behalf, is enough to merit their continued efforts on my behalf. And this is not being cynical or selfish about it. It is merely being aware that all relationships are two way. Too much ying and not enough yang and you’ll soon be all alone.

Not that being alone is a bad thing. Lots of people are alone and happy. Who is to say that any way of being is better than any other? As long as you are not raping, killing and child abusing, you can pretty much do what you like and people should leave you alone. And who is to say that you being alone is not a vital component in the future of the globe? Who is to say that you being single, out in a nightclub, complimenting a particularly fine looking woman, who in turn feels great about herself from that one very compliment and in turn decides to tell all her friends on facebook, which leads her to surfing the net and finding a niche for websites that give compliments to people, in turn getting her to set up a “complimenting” website, which in turn becomes one of the biggest multi billion dollar dating websites, which allows our complimented woman to open hundreds of banks around the world and fund an abundance of small industries which help change the very framework the world is set up by – as the precursor to borrowing any money from her bank, is not how much credit is in the banking system, but whether or not you are a positive enforcer.

The butterfly effect which I have just described is part of chaos theory and the general theory goes a little something like this – a small change at one point in a non linear system, can result in a massive change further on along the line. The idea being that a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil, can affect the tides of the winds to such a degree, that somewhere further along the line a tornado may appear in the Bahamas because of it. I like to apply this theory to life itself. To my life. I like to think that the tiniest of gestures and compliments can go a long way to changing people’s future. I like to think that this emailer has helped me reinvigorate my sense of social responsibility and that somewhere down the line, maybe months or years, the results will be unbelievable. Who are you going to help change today?

5 thoughts on “The Butterfly Effect”

  1. So well written, John. How often do you see a smile travel down a street – from the one first freely given, it is impossible not to smile back and then at everyone else. We never know how we are affecting others.
    Thanks for reminding me.

  2. I love it! I once wrote a list of all the people I wanted to thank for helping or influencing me in my life, I even sent a letter to an old teacher to say thanks for caring.

    We are influenced by so many people, events and ideas that it is nice sometimes to think for a while and ackowledge where it all came from….

  3. Great post, Sober Paddy. I think we could all do with more positive reinforcement in life. Too much time is devoted to critical comment. We only have to look at the front page of any newspaper to see how negativity sells. The free newspaper, the Metro, is laughed at because of its fluffy stories about cute dogs and mountain-climbers. But without these stories, the world becomes a frighteningly critical place. I’m glad you’ve been inspired to stay focussed and positive, and the result is a post that chooses to give a “leg up” to yourself and to others who may need it.


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