How Full Is Your Bucket?

Summary Written by Hélène Egan
"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."

- How Full is Your Bucket?, page 5

The Big Idea

Filling another person’s bucket also fills our own

"“Studies show that organizational leaders who share positive emotions have workgroups with a more positive mood, enhanced job satisfaction, greater engagement, and improved group performance”."- How Full is Your Bucket?, page 17

I can only imagine that the leader described above in turn has wonderful job satisfaction. This leader is likely proud, and fulfilled. Given that “the #1 reason people leave their jobs” is because they “don’t feel appreciated,” it seems worth it for everyone’s sake to create a way for people to feel appreciated.

As we fill other’s buckets with positive emotions, with recognition, with gratitude, with kindness, so too will our own buckets be filled.

Insight #1

Magic ratio is 5:1

"Experts are finding that the frequency of small, positive acts is critical."- How Full is Your Bucket?, page 43

According to John Gottman (known for his research on marriage), there indeed is a magical thing that happens when the ratio of positive versus negative interactions get close to that magic number of 5:1. Gottman found that this points to successful marriages.

What does this mean for business? If your interactions with colleagues, your team, your manager, your clients, your direct reports aims for the magic ratio of 5:1, you are creating lasting relationships. What would that mean to you? It could translate to more happiness for you, as well as employees who stay with you, and clients for life. Doesn’t that sound like something we all strive for in business?

But how to do this? Keep track. Start by focusing on one relationship that is important to you. Maybe you have a colleague with whom you are working on an important project. Or perhaps it’s one of your direct reports whose performance goes up and down. Look for opportunities to fill that person’s bucket. The beauty of this approach is that it takes a mere moment at a time. As long as the positivity is grounded in reality, it fills a bucket.

Join our newsletter

Sign up for the very best book summaries right to your inbox.
We care about your data in our privacy policy.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Insight #2

Bucket filling can be transformative

"Great recognition and praise can immediately transform a workplace. And just one person can infuse positive emotions into an entire group by filling buckets more frequently."- How Full is Your Bucket?, page 17

And then, the question becomes “who goes first?” Of course, this can’t be a real question. The person to go first has to be “us”, “me”, “you”. Let’s not expect someone else to be the bucket filler. Let’s take this on. And, of course, it becomes contagious. Once we fill more buckets, then more and more people do the same.

This an easy strategy to implement. With no cost you can be the one to make the difference.

Start by making a commitment to share positive emotions. There are so many ways to do so:

  • Send a note to one of your employees at the end of each day letting them know what you noticed about something they did today.
  • When you walk by someone’s workspace, stop for a moment to share how much you appreciate their contribution in this moment.
  • When you receive some positive feedback from a customer, share that with the team member who made it happen, and thank them.
  • Pay attention to what others do to fill buckets, and put those actions into practice.

Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton have created a lasting metaphor with the bucket and the dipper. They make it so simple to remember, and yet, it’s a powerful concept. They remind us that this is not just another “feel good” idea about making people happy, but that creating the positive environment translates into real results. Our organizations will be more productive, and our employees will be engaged. If you have ever struggled with how to engage an employee, the simple answer might just be right here – fill their bucket.

Read the book

Get How Full Is Your Bucket? on Amazon.

Donald O. Clifton

“Donald O. Clifton was an American psychologist and is known as “the Father of Strengths Psychology and the Grandfather of Positive Psychology” according to the American Psychological Association. He developed the eponymous Clifton StrengthsFinder, Gallup’s online psychological assessment. Clifton was professor of educational psychology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln from 1950 to 1969 when he founded Selection Research, Inc. (SRI) that grew to the point where in 1988 it acquired the Gallup Organization and took on the older company’s name. Clifton was a World War II veteran and recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross.” (via Wikipedia)

Subscribe to digest
Read about our privacy policy.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.