Success In Terms of Buckets

After visiting and interacting with more than one thousand dental students, residents, dentists, and team members over the past 10 years, I’ve come to the following conclusion.

The green bucket takes up an inappropriate amount of attention. Let’s define success. In order to do so, think of a person who we would consider successful.  What do they have?

• Nice things
• Good health
• A great relationship with their immediate and extended family
• Friends who care about them
• A reputation for being both effective and kind
• A peaceful, stress-free demeanor
• Great attention towards philanthropy and service
• Dynamic and diverse interests
• Knowledge about the world
• Humility despite his/her amazing accomplishments

Now let’s take the above bullet points, and make them buckets.  A peaceful demeanor would be a yellow bucket, knowledge would be red, etc.  Now you have this room, and it is full of these different colored buckets.

I think we would all agree that the people who “win” at life are the ones whose buckets are all mostly full of water – while some may not be completely full, none are empty.

Every time you make an effort to improve your life, as it pertains to one of the buckets, you are turning on the spout and adding a healthy amount of water into that bucket.  The problem is that all of those buckets have a hole in the bottom.  They are all leaking and some are leaking faster than the others.

Now let’s imagine that the “money” or “nice things” bucket is green.  It is the bucket that gets all the attention from the people I have lectured to or counseled over the years.  People want to know how to keep that bucket full.  They will invest a tremendous amount of time, effort, and money into making sure that their green bucket has a continuous supply of water.

There are two problems with this strategy.
First, the green bucket, for most people, has the largest hole at the bottom.
Second, the more attention we give to the green bucket, the less attention we give to the others.

During this COVID-19 quarantine period, think about the buckets in your life.

Think about the buckets that you value, and then be honest about their contents.  Most of us can’t contribute much to our green buckets during this period, but that may be a blessing.  Why?

Because we can repair that big hole at the bottom of it.  Repair it with something strong, like renewed self-discipline.

And we can begin devoting more effort toward the others.