Service & Leadership
You may be an ambassador to England or France
You may like to gamble, you might like to dance
You may be the heavyweight champion of the world
You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody
Bob Dylan, Gotta Serve Somebody, 1979
Be more selfish
Most of us feel pulled this way and that by all those we support and serve. Look at your list: your spouse, your kids, your boss, your organization, your team – and that’s probably just the beginning. I’m sure sometimes you must ask yourself, “when do I get some time for myself on this planet?”
And I’m all for you being selfish. [It is one of my Eight Irresistible Principles of Fun]. Getting clear on who you are, what you want and how you’re going to go about finding it all exactly the right things to be doing. If you do that (and let me say that it’s remarkably difficult to get really clear on what you really want) things will change.
What that will likely mean – if you’re brave enough, if you willing to change a pattern or two – is that you’ll start saying No more clearly and more often to those to whom you’re giving a Yes. You’ll bring focus, courage and resilience to the work (the Great Work) that you’re doing. You’ll create more relationships that are “adult to adult” rather than bouncing about The Drama Triangle. [Listen to Gay Hendricks speak about The Drama Triangle.]
But be less selfish too
One of the ironies of getting clear on what you want to take is that it makes you more likely to give. In fact, research tells us it’s a virtuous circle. You mindfully serve, you become happier, you become more willing to support others, you mindfully serve … and so it goes. There’s a reason why Robert Greenleaf’s classic book Servant Leadership is 35 years old and still selling strong. Through service, you find leadership.
The shift is how deliberate and how committed you’ll be. Not just reacting and responding, being pulled this way and that. But showing up with a clear commitment and who you will serve – and what that really means.
So what could it be for you?
Will you truly serve your clients? And if so, what does that look like?
Will you truly serve your team mates? And what would be different if you were?
Will you truly serve a disadvantaged group in your community? And what’s the gold you might bring to that?
Will you truly serve your “tribe”? And what are they most hungry for?
Will you serve your family? What do they really need?
I’m curious to know what type of service speaks to you right now.