The Dipper and the Bucket: A Leadership

The Dipper and the Bucket: A Leadership Principle

On May 1, 2013, in From the LAB, Leadership Insights, by NAR Staff

Scott Lalli, UT, 2012 Class Representative on the Leadership Academy Advisory Board
My Grandfather was a wonderful story teller. Growing up I remember him teaching me many things by sharing stories which usually included a principle about life. One of my favorites was the story of the dipper and the bucket.

All of us have a bucket and all of us have a dipper. When things are good our buckets are full. When our buckets are full we feel happy, content and are generally pleasant. All is right with the world.

But when our buckets are empty, we are sad, discouraged and not all that much fun to be around. The world around us seems tough, even cruel and we have a hard time seeing the positive in anything.

We also all have a dipper. We can use that dipper in two ways. One way is to pour into a bucket and one way is to take out of a bucket. Here are a couple of examples:

I recently received a hand written note from an agent in my office thanking me for something that I’d helped them out with. It was a small gesture, but that little note really meant a lot to me. They used their dipper to fill up my bucket!

Unfortunately, the opposite can also be true. Sometimes we use our dippers to take from others’ buckets. It can happen in a variety of ways. Some are subtle and some are blatant, but all leave ones bucket a little emptier than it was. I remember a time when our office had a particularly productive month. I wanted to say thanks to our team so I decided to cater a hot breakfast for our meeting. Normally, if there were bagels or doughnuts at a meeting that would be a real surprise, so I thought a full breakfast would be a really big deal! It was nicely done with a big spread of wonderful food as a surprise to reward a hard working team. Most were excited and expressed their gratitude to me for doing this. I was feeling really good and thought I’d really done something nice. And then one of my agents walked up to me and said, “Why would you have this restaurant cater breakfast? Their food is always terrible”, and then she walked away.
She got her dipper in my bucket that day!

One of the great things about leadership is that you frequently have the opportunity to put the principle of the dipper and the bucket into practical application. Great leaders are careful about the way they use their dippers. To me, the best leaders are bucket fillers and are always using their dippers to fill up someone’s bucket. The interesting thing about filling someone’s bucket is that your bucket usually is filled as well. What a great reward! As a leader, it is important to seek out opportunities to fill buckets and in turn, you will see your bucket filled.

Realtors® all take the role as a leader at some point. Whether it is to your clients, in your office, or in your association, we all have the chance to lead by being a bucket filler. You don’t need a title, position, or to win an election to do it. All you need is the desire to fill another’s bucket and the rest will take care of itself.


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