top of page


Screen Shot 2019-04-26 at 3.14.03 PM.png

Book: How Full Is Your Bucket?

Author:  Tom Rath and Donald Clifton

Purchase:  Print | eBook | Audiobook

Citation:  Rath, T. & Clifton, D. (2004). How full is your bucket? : positive strategies for work and life. New York: Gallup Press.

Three Big Takeaways:
  1. Every interaction makes a difference. The results of our encounters are rarely neutral; they are almost always positive or negative.  And although we take these interactions for granted, they accumulate and profoundly affect our lives. (pg. 1)

  2. Think about the greatest recognition you have ever received in the workplace. Chances are, it caused you to feel better about your organization and, in turn, become more productive. (pg. 17)

  3. We experience approximately 20,000 moments in a waking day.  Rarely does the neutral encounter stay in your mind - the memorable moments are almost always positive or negative. (pg. 41)


Other Key Ideas:

​One person can eliminate almost all of the active disengagement if he or she primarily focuses on an employee’s strengths...When a manager focuses on an employee’s strengths, there was just a 1% chance of that employee being very negative or actively disengaged on the job. (pg. iii)

Each of also has an invisible dipper. When we use that dipper to fill other people’s buckets - by saying or doing things to increase their positive emotions - we also fill our own bucket.  But when we use that dipper to dip from others’ buckets - by saying or doing things that decrease their positive emotions - we diminish ourselves. (pg. 5)

Individuals who receive regular recognition and praise: increase their individual productivity, increase engagement among their colleagues, are more likely to stay with their organization, receive higher loyalty and satisfaction scores from customers, and have better safety records and few accidents on their job. (pg. 17)

One CEO always stops by his company’s local offices.  His primary intent is to energize the people in each workplace. Before arriving, he recalls successes and achievements he has heard.  As soon as he arrives, he casually visits with these individuals and congratulates them. He may offer kudos to an employee who recently got married or had a child or praise someone who gave a great presentation...He realized he could light up an entire workplace with a few brief conversations. (pg. 19)

According to the US Dept. of Labor, the number-one reason people leave their jobs is because they “do not feel appreciated.” (pg. 21)

Negative employees scare off customers.  Think about the last time you called a customer service line and were treated poorly.   You might stop doing business with that company, and you might tell others about your experience. This is the damage one negative employee can inflict on any business. (pg. 25)

Praise is rare in most workplaces.  One poll found that an astonishing 65% of Americans reported receiving no recognition for good work in the past year.  And we have yet to find anyone who reports suffering from over-recognition. (pg. 27)

The defining moment in one individual’s life occurred when a grade school teacher simply told him that she cared about him and believed in him.  This one small interaction turned this person’s life around. (pg. 43)

While this book focuses primarily on ways to increase positive emotions, it’s important to note that we don’t recommend ignoring negativity and weakness; positivity must be grounded in reality.  Completely ignoring negatives can result in a false optimism that is counterproductive - and sometimes annoying. There are times when it’s necessary to correct our mistakes and figure out how to manage our weaknesses. (pg. 47)

The recognition and praise you provide must have meaning that is specific to each individual.  Not only is individualized bucket filling more effective in boosting productivity in the workplace, it builds sustainable relationships and changes people’s lives forever. (pg. 66)

In grade school kids often stick with sports teams, cheerleading, music, or other extracurricular groups even when the activity isn’t a clear fit for their interests. Why?  They probably have a best friend there. Best friends are important in the workplace. (pg. 77)

The vast majority of people prefer gifts that are unexpected.  Expected gifts fill our buckets...but for some reason receiving things unexpectedly fills our buckets just a little more.  It’s about the element of surprise. (pg. 82)

Set a goal to write at least five specific forms of recognition every month.  (pg. 88)

bottom of page