Do you care enough to feed just one?

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”

Mother Teresa

There is danger in grandeur. Sometimes it is easy to convince ourselves that if an idea isn’t big enough to change the world, then we shouldn’t even bother with it. Sometimes it feels like only the grandest of things truly count.

But that isn’t true at all. The things that really matter happen in the smallest of moments. They start with the simplest ideas, that then grow and take on steam, not because you set out to feed 100 people, but because you care enough to feed just one…

What stops you?

“If you have the ability to help, and you know there are ways you can make a positive difference, and if you are able to do it, I don’t quite understand not…”

Eddie Vedder

I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on gratitude and the power of living a grateful life. It’s not because it is almost Thanksgiving (although that is a good time for everyone to pause and be grateful) but just a continuing realization and appreciation for just how blessed and privileged I have been throughout my life.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to sit in a Q&A session between Keith Block (Co-CEO of Salesforce) and Eddie Vedder (of Pearl Jam). Eddie said a lot of great things but the quote above really stood out to me (as well as a few of the others I will share below.) This was the fourth or fifth time over the past several weeks where I have heard a “give back” or “help others” message. I have found in life that when a bunch of seemingly unrelated experiences happen to convey a similar message that I really need to sit up and pay attention.

So what exactly does this mean? I have no idea. But helping others, doing for others, living a life for others with a spirit of gratitude and understanding for all that we have been blessed with is so rewarding.

Why do we turn a blind eye to the needs of others? Why do we step past a person on the street who is homeless and hungry? Why do we find ways to do things for ourselves but yet we can’t find five minutes to reach out to friends or family to let them know we are thinking about them? When did we move from being a society that was thankful for simple blessings and become a society obsessed with the relentless pursuit of more?

Eddie shared several thoughts yesterday that really struck home with me as I reflect on blessings and ways to give back. Here are some of the ones that stood out to me:

“In our DNA we are hunters and gatherers. It’s not hunters, gatherers and hoarders.”

“It just seems like you the more you give, the more you get in return.”

“If you have the ability to help, there’s always going to be a way you can make a positive difference.”

Life on this earth is short and temporary. Tomorrow is never promised and As I wrote about yesterday we are truly here on this earth to help and love others. What greater gift is there to live a life of gratitude on a daily basis and find a way every day to do something for someone else, with no expectation of anything in return? What is stopping you from helping someone, anyone, today?

Your true purpose…

“The sole reason we are here is to help someone else.”

Tim Cook

The context behind this quote is on realizing our true purpose in life. I had the opportunity yesterday to see a conversation between Tim Cook & Marc Benioff while attending Dreamforce (Salesforce’s annual conference). Tim was speaking about our purpose in life and how it took him a long time to realize his purpose, and not just his individual purpose, but the collective purpose of all humanity. His sentiment was that once you realize that the purpose of being on this earth was to help others that it is the most liberating and revelatory awareness one can have.

What if everyone realized this, and behaved accordingly? What if every single person treated others with dignity and respect? What if we all made it our purpose today to find someone and help them? How different would our world be tomorrow?

Instead of being burdened today by what you do, go find a way to help someone else. You just might find that you are fulfilling your true purpose…

Give to receive…

“Try to help others. Consult their weaknesses, relieve their maladies; strive to raise them up, and by so doing you will most effectually raise yourself up also.”

Joseph Barber Lightfoot

Why do you serve others? Is it to help them or yourself? Ultimately, when you give, you receive…

Were you able to help someone today?

The gift that keeps on giving…

“The greatest gift of leadership is a boss who wants you to be successful.”

Jon Taffer

The dictionary defines “gift” as “something given voluntarily without payment in return, as to show favor toward someone, honor an occasion, or make a gesture of assistance; present.”

Or

“As something bestowed or acquired without any particular effort by the recipient or without its being earned.”

How do you wrap this present for those that you serve? How do you ensure that you put your leadership effort and energy INTO others, not for your sake, not for your own selfish needs, but truly into others. Because that is the definition of being a good boss, a good leader. You have to be a person that gives this gift voluntarily.

Is this a gift you give as willingly as you receive it? How can you tell when you are blessed with the gift of having a boss who truly wants you to be successful? Do you model these behaviors back to those that you lead? If you don’t have a boss like this, do you model the behaviors you want anyway?

Get out a sheet of paper. Write down three specific ways or behaviors that this leadership gift would manifest if you were to receive it from a boss. Then draw a line across the page. Under that line write down three specific ways or behaviors that would send you the opposite message. These are the things that you wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of from your boss. The top of the page is your leadership gift “to do” list. The bottom of the page is your “never do” list.

Study this list regularly and hold yourself accountable to actively and intentionally doing the top of the page items. Ensure that you do the first three things regardless of whether or not you receive them. Guard against the bottom three items in your own leadership of others.

Be the greatest leadership gift another person can ever receive. Be the leader that helps someone be successful. It can truly be the gift that keeps on giving…

Critical help…

“Let the improvement of yourself keep you so busy that you have no time to criticize others.”

Roy T. Bennett

Human natures seems to have a strong predisposition towards talking about, and criticizing, others. I know that I am certainly guilty of this. I wonder what would happen if we flipped the paradigm on its head and instead spent the time and energy on growing ourselves with the intent to help others? How powerful would it be if instead of asking ‘what’s wrong with them’ or ‘why can’t they do a better job at this or that?’ we instead asked the question, ‘how can I grow and develop myself with a goal to help them?’ Or, even more simply, ‘how can I help and serve them?’

If instead of criticizing someone today, challenge yourself to find a way to help them grow. Ask how can you make a difference and not just be a someone that is good at finding fault with others.

It’s not me, it’s you…

“Ultimately, leadership is not about glorious crowning acts. It’s about keeping your team focused on a goal and motivated to do their best to achieve it, especially when the stakes are high and the consequences really matter. It is about laying the groundwork for others’ success, and then standing back and letting them shine.” 

Chris Hadfield

The best leader I have ever worked for did two things exceptionally well. First, he asked great questions to keep our team focused on where we were going, not just what we were doing. Second, when we achieved great results, he stepped back and gave the team all the credit. He knew it wasn’t about him and as a result his team would have done anything for him. Leadership isn’t about you…

Help me, help you…

“I believe that you can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

Zig Ziglar

What percentage of your time do you spend seeking to understand and help other people with their challenges? How does this compare to the time spent on yourself and your challenges? When I think about these questions I am pretty convicted. I know I don’t spend as much time as I should seeking to help others get what they want. It isn’t that I don’t want to, not at all, I just need to be more intentional with my efforts and energy.

How do you keep a focus on helping others front and center? What are the right questions to think about as you enter any conversation or relationship? Here are a few that I am going to start using at the beginning and ending of each day as framing questions to ensure that I am focused on helping and serving others.

  • Start of the day: Who can I intentionally seek to help achieve something they want today? What questions do I need to ask in my conversations to ensure I am focused on helping others?
  • End of the day: Who did I help today? What did they want or need that I was able to assist with? What did I hear or see that creates an opportunity for me to help someone achieve their goals?

Who is doing the measuring?

“The best way to measure how much you’ve grown isn’t by inches or the number of laps you can now run around the track, or even your grade point average — though those things are important, to be sure. It’s what you’ve done with your time, how you’ve chosen to spend your days, and whom you’ve touched this year. That, to me, is the greatest measure of success.”

R.J. Palacio

How do you measure the impact you have had on the lives of others?  It’s certainly easy to measure tangible things like those mentioned above, and I agree that they are definitely important, but what the impact of a kind word, a simple smile, a display of genuine concern for another person?  

I would bet that most people will never be aware of the positive impact that they have had my life.  I can think of many specific examples where the actions of another have had profound impact on who I am as a person today.  They weren’t trying to impact me, they were living and behaving in accordance with their deepest beliefs, choosing how they spent their time, and in so doing they touched my life.  

When I read this quote I immediately thought of a video that a good friend shared with me earlier this week.  

These “God Moments” or “Shoulder Taps” are so powerful  and so easy to overlook in today’s hyper busy and always connected and digitally measured world.  It makes me step back and think about how so much of life today is spent measuring success in “likes,” “favorites,” and “retweets.” The real measure of success is positively impacting the lives of others and ultimately it is being being measured, just not by me…

 

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