In every life, there are defining moments, both big and small, in which we must choose between two or more courses of action. Choices which may, from the outside, appear to be of little consequence to others, but which are nevertheless driven from within by different forces of motivation, whether fear, duty, purpose, sacrifice, greed, love, etc. Of course we are always making choices, even in the mundane, and over the course of a lifetime, these choices, however seemingly insignificant at the time, add up and reflect a larger choice…a deeper value…which ultimately shapes the character and quality of our lives.
As I’ve stopped to consider and reflect on the motivations inherent in each choice along my own journey, I’ve discovered that most choices can be whittled down to two questions: 1) Will this choice serve others; or 2) Is this choice primarily about serving the self? As John Maxwell writes in his book, The Journey From Success to Significance, “are you working for success (primarily serving the self) or are you working for significance (serving others)?”
Don’t get me wrong – there is nothing inherently wrong with serving the needs of the self. In fact, I would argue that until and unless we are able to take care of our core needs and truly love ourselves, we have very little to offer anyone else – whether a relationship, a family, a community, or a profession. Still, when we build a life primarily centered around the self (which may even come at the expense of others), we miss out on so many gifts in this world.
Paradoxically, the more we serve others, the more the Universe opens to us. The more we seek ways in which to use our gifts for a greater good than just our own self-promotion, the more opportunity arises to share these gifts. In placing the needs of the whole above the self, we position ourselves as leaders; and through thoughtful leadership, we create openings for others to grow.
Most significantly, as empowerment of others leads to increased and mutual trust, we collectively grow and achieve greater results than any of us could standing alone.
What values, motivations, and influences drive your daily decisions? Is there a center point or compass driving your choices in life? How has serving others created openings and opportunities to lead and influence change?