Service is a privilege
To be of service is a privilege.
There I’ve said it. It’s the fastest way to right size yourself, to put your ego well and truly back in its place and to live a life of legacy and purpose. Not everyone sees it like this.
Service isn’t related only to a job, a role or to a skill set. It isn’t for one person or group and not for another. It isn’t limited to those who were born with more or less. It doesn’t discriminate. The beautiful thing about service is that it’s a gift we all have access to, and the gift is service itself….the provision of it. For it is in the giving that we receive.
And just what do we receive?
A sense of purpose
Connection with another human
The list is endless really.
So, what do I mean when I speak of service? My definition of service is to be there for another human being in order to do something that enables that other person to do more than they could on their own.
Muhammad Ali says that “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth”. Service is a privilege.
And service is a practice built on discipline.
It’s a choice to show up for someone else and to do for someone else. Sometimes we want to and sometimes we don’t feel like it. It’s a decision which once made requires more from us. And for that to be possible, we must continue to a) replenish the reserve b) build the capacity. There’s no point in going to the ocean for water if all you have is a teaspoon. A pipeline is better infrastructure, and it takes more effort and time to build.
Let’s start with the cornerstone of intention. Living with intention is living on purpose, living by design, living deliberately. Before I even get out of bed, I can set an intention to be of service TODAY. What does that look like? I can visualize the people I’m interacting with (in person, via email, speaking with on the phone) and what behaviour reflects that intention to be of service. Starting my day this way, tasks my reticular activating system so that my subconscious knows what to do in each situation in the moment. It’s my mind’s dress rehearsal….I’m priming the pump! Combined with preparation for the conversation or meeting or event, I have more chance of delivering on my intention and having greater impact with another human being because of the way I am when I’m with them. Being. Not doing.
How can I be of service though by not DOING something? Being of service is a way of being first. It is the way you do anything and then everything. It’s an attitude of humility. Don’t confuse this word with humiliation. Humility is about being right sized. Not greater than another, not less than another. Non-comparison. Coming with something to learn and something that only I can bring that could be of benefit.
Let me explain another way.
Recently I was invited to an incredible presentation about Tipping Points. The keynote speaker was an Order of Australia recipient and I was just a lucky audience member. By listening with an open heart (it’s a practice I teach by the way because it changes the way the other person feels and is able to share more deeply) I was BEING of service: showing up to learn and giving by listening in this manner. Without realizing it, my listening was so significant to the speaker that he actually thanked me for it! But to me, it’s just the way I listen. It’s one way I practice being of service. Always. I like to be there to allow the other person to communicate into. Being of service can be as simple as this for me and yet significant to the other person.
To me, the practice of service is like the practice of integrity.
One of the best definitions I’ve read about integrity is by James Kerr, author of “Legacy”:
“Though the end result is trust, belief and respect, these are merely the by-products of the fact that when we say something will happen, it actually does happen. This means that others can count on us to deliver. And most importantly, that we can count on ourselves.”
Failure to be of service, is also a lack of integrity. It’s the waste that happens when neither quality is present: lateness or total non appearance, failure to meet deadlines, not getting around to calling someone because something else took priority, expenses unpaid but payment promised, letting someone down and ruining a relationship.
Service like integrity involves simple acts that matter to someone else.
Service is a subset of integrity.