Deb Sofield


What’s in The Well, Comes Up in The Bucket

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Recently, I was listening to the commencement address by Tyler Perry at Tuskegee University and, in his remarks, he made this statement:

What’s in the well, comes up in the bucket.”


It is the first time I had heard this phrase and it just stuck with me, because it seems to be the perfect southern phrase of how life really is no matter what it seems like on the outside.

I get that everyone wants to appear successful to friends and family (and enemies), and good for those who have made it because, no doubt, it took work to find their place and space to be prosperous, and I applaud and cheer loudly for those who have made it in this tough environment–they deserve to be acknowledged and heralded for their success because they have earned it (even if you don’t think so).

Understand that many of your friends and colleagues have benefited from years of hard work and sweat and tears because they did the work and they got elected; they wrote the book, the play the article and the movie so, instead of letting the green-eyed monster of envy and jealousy wreck your long-standing friendship, slow down and hold your emotions in check and learn to be happy for their success…because they earned it.

I know it is not easy to be happy when others seem to be zooming past you in the company, in the winning of awards or the acquisition of worldly goods but, friend, you know that your peers would be genuinely happy for your success when it comes either financially, or by gift or by good luck. And no matter how it comes, they would be proud to stand with you because they know you and love you for who you are. Your true friends know how hard you have worked whether you are rewarded or not. So don’t deny them the joy of celebrating you because you’re so filled with anger, envy and jealousy that you don’t have what they have or because you don’t measure up (in your mind) to them.

It is a small person who breaks the bond of friendship over material things.

I am heartbroken when I see long-standing friendships break apart because one in the group achieves great success compared to others in their peer group and, instead of celebrating the success of their friend, many times the well-to-do friend is pushed away or they step away to find new friends who don’t hold such deep and painful grudges. What a waste of years of good memories just because envy and resentment clouded the space!

When I see that happen, it is easy to tell what’s really in their well, because their childish actions will come up in the bucket every time.

You don’t have to wonder what’s in their well; you can see it for yourself. I would dare say that their “well” is 1) not deep, 2) has no refreshing water and 3) in most cases might even be dry. That is what anger, envy and hate do to a person. They empty the last bit of joy and spill the final fragments of friendship into the gutter of resentment.

Ah, friend, don’t be that person.

Change your thinking from negative to positive, from envy to joy and from scarcity to abundance. There is no shortage of wealth or material goods or fame to be acquired in this world if that is what you really want.

Quick caveat: as a friend, I would warn you to think long and hard about your desires for temporal things that will wear you down and out, leaving you with less than what you started with. Many a good person has crashed on the rocks of financial destruction, destroying their soul in their pursuit of the almighty dollar and leaving nothing in their wake.

That being said, trust me when I tell you that anyone can make a way if they will build their well deep enough, in the right place and properly located.

So don’t spend another minute wishing in someone else’s well–it’s not for you. They built it, and they are the beneficiaries of their hard work and good fortune.

Instead of being unhappy, jealous and snarky about others’ successes, go and build your own well, and enjoy the refreshing water that comes from your labor and toil, because, remember, what’s in the well comes up in the bucket.

Problem is, many people haven’t the slightest idea how to build a well. They look for the easy way, the get-rich-quick schemes and the theft of other people’s work to steal as their own. It doesn’t take much to see what is in their bucket–NOTHING, because they didn’t do the work.

I recently read an interesting article about how people need to stop wasting time reading the silly articles about what “Warren Buffett does every day, or what Elon Musk eats before noon, or that “one trait” rich people have that poor people don’t. It’s interesting, but when it comes to building wealth and success, these habits don’t teach you anything about what it really takes to get there. In fact, they’re kind of counterproductive.”

The article goes on to talk about the habits that will make anyone successful on their personal journey.

So, in thinking about your “well” and how to build it deep and how to connect to a source of water that will bring refreshment to your mind, body, soul and spirit, allow me to suggest a few things to get you started.

Always know that you are smart enough and strong enough to keep on keeping on–success isn’t going to happen if you don’t do your part daily, put in the time and effort and educate yourself to the degree of what you need to know to do your job in an exceptional way. You have the power to make your future come true. Never doubt your ability to do good by doing well for yourself and others.

You must believe that you are enough just as you are. If you want to grow your knowledge base, then by all means do so, but don’t underestimate your ability to do the job you have or the one you’re hoping to create from where you are. You have come too far on your journey to give up now, so press towards the mark of the high calling that you instinctively know you have, and be confident that your reward–whatever that may be–will come just at the right time because you are more than enough and more powerful beyond your current situation. Time is on your side when you press towards success.

And finally, lighten up on yourself and others. So many good people have lost the joy of their work and their life and their connections because they allowed someone else to control their attitude or the office politics or other group situations. Take back control of what you can, to give you the power you need to be a true friend, or to do your job or to build a future in the way that is best for you and your organization. You do not need to carry someone else’s heavy burden or bad attitude–that is not in your best interest–let them carry their own load. You’re not their pack mule, so throw off the weight of others’ negativity, and lighten up and live.

The reason I believe it is so important that you take stock of what is in your well is because, in the end, it does not matter what others say or do. What really matters is what comes up in your bucket from the well you’ve built, and only you can fill your well with life-saving water to help you grow, thrive and be successful.

A well that is not built deep enough will not bubble with clean refreshing water, a spoiled well is even worse because it seems okay until someone is harmed by drinking the water and an empty well does no one any good. So, while there is still time, build your well and you’ll be ready and refreshed for what comes up in your bucket, because what’s in the well comes up in the bucket…every time.

Deb Sofield

Deb Sofield is a Keynote Speaker, Author of the book, Speak without Fear – Rock Star Presentation Skills to get People to Hear What You Say and Encouragement For Your Life ~ Tough Love Memos to Help You Fight Your Battles and Change the World, Radio Talk Show Host in the Salem Network, Podcaster and President of her own Executive Speech Coaching Co., which trains women and men for success in speaking, crisis communications, presentation skills, media and message development in the U.S. and abroad.

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