Perhaps just like you, I used to show up at my job with basically one thing in mind — to get through the day and give my best ‘to the Company’ in the process. And yeah, I did think about ‘the Company’ in that abstract way that a lot of us do. The Company that signs my check. The Company that decides if I progress in my career or not.
But somewhere along the line this started to feel like it was not enough. Like I was missing something. And then chatting with a co-worker, Joe, he said something I’ll never forget.
He said: “I’m here to serve, not to be served.”
I had never thought about it that way, but he had hit on a weakness in me, a part of me that I hadn’t really developed, that would only be unlocked by taking action. I realized that I could feel better, feel more effective, and probably even make more progress if I stopped thinking about serving a faceless Company, and instead focused on serving those I worked with, and ultimately those people that my company provided our products to. And I also realized that by thinking about my Company as some sort of emotionless, formless entity, I was doing a disservice to everyone around me who actually made up the company. I wasn’t interacting with people with as much humanity as I should have.
Jeff Goins (author, blogger, blabber) once wrote that you can serve your way to influence – and I think he’s really onto something. Now I’m not saying that you should try to help people only to gain the ability to control them — if you’re looking for that, you’re not really interested in service, you’re interested in power. What it really means to me is that there are ways to differentiate myself simply by allowing myself to see something that someone needs done, and just stepping up and doing it for them. It allows me to better connect to others, and it allows them to see me as being helpful for getting them closer to what they want, so we all get nicely aligned and rowing in the same direction.
Doesn’t sound hard, does it?
Well it can be. Chalene Johnson had a great pin on her Pinterest page that referenced Dr. Wayne W. Dyer the author — and it really speaks to how rarely we take the time to step into action for others. The quote is actually the title of Dr Dyer’s book:
It’s Never Crowded Along The Extra Mile
And frankly, it’s not. Life gets in the way. There are time crunches, and conflicting agendas, and deceit, and all kinds of things that can muck it up. I’m certainly not a perfect example. I get impatient, make mistakes, and fall short. But if you put all of these things aside, you will find that it really doesn’t have to slow you down. It can actually give you more energy, which you can apply to getting everyone on the same page. That’s why it can differentiate you, and even take you further than you might imagine.
The idea of Service Leadership is a real thing. It’s about putting others needs first, rather than focusing on gathering power and influence through coercion. What generally happens to leaders that adopt this attitude is that they are led into their leadership roles by the very people that they focus on serving.
It’s being ridiculously helpful. And there’s something deep within us that needs us to connect and give — that’s why it can be so satisfying to do. That’s why I decided to make a go of it, and try to add it to my life.
And I encourage you to do the same. Today you can find someone, a client, partner, coworker, customer or even your boss, and help them out. In these times where some of the news reports can make you feel like there’s no goodness in people at all, it can bring back a bit of balance to your heart.
In the end, it’s not ridiculous at all.
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