There is the old saying that “a rising tide lifts all boats.” What if, instead of putting your energy into rising with the tide, you spent your energy focusing on being the tide for someone else? How then would you be lifted?
“Spend a little more time trying to make something of yourself and a little less time trying to impress people.”
The Breakfast Club
This quote reminds me of the time I heard Jim Collins talk about his work with Peter Drucker. Jim shared that after working together for a few weeks, Peter pulled him aside and said, “Jim, I think you will find in life that you will be much more effective and impactful if you spend more time being interested instead of interesting. You can’t make everything about you.”
Now I am paraphrasing this since it has been well over ten years since I heard Jim share this story. It made an indelible impact on me, and I have written about this before, which you can view here.
Today, as I meditated and reflected on the quote above and the Jim Collins story, it strikes me that while the implied meanings are very different, ‘focus on self versus others vs. focus on others over self,’ the root cause is the same. “What do other people think about me?”
How much of our time, effort, and energy do we spend managing our lives to meet others’ perceived needs or expectations? How much of ourselves do we willingly give away based on the false hope that what others believe or perceive about me is the essential thing in life?
Instead of creating a life based on what others think about us, we should spend our lives threading the needle of meaning that exists between these two quotes. We need to identify and grow our own unique and special gifts and talents with the specific intent of bringing them to bear in a positive and impactful manner in service to others.
I believe this is why God created each of us and then charged us to serve and love our neighbors. We must surrender our egos and use our gifts to help others. Those that do this well are the truly awe-inspiring ones…
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”
There are always scary things on the news but today during a time of the Covid-19 pandemic the news seems especially frightening. Daily updates on infections, deaths, the impact to millions through economic fallout, and the fear and uncertainty of our unknown future.
Yet everyday people wake up, get dressed and prepare to serve others. I have always admired those in the medical fields because I view what they do as a true passion and calling. I don’t think my gratitude towards this entire profession has ever been as strong as it is today. In a Covid-19 world these individuals knowingly put themselves in harms way to serve others. What an incredible blessing and gift they give to every person they serve.
Interestingly enough during my devotional time this morning this verse was front and center and is one that I believe certainly applies to each of our health care professionals in today’s world. “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” 1 John 3:16 NIV
To knowingly risk oneself in the service of others. To knowingly put your family a little closer to the front lines. To give of oneself and lay it all down. What a debt of gratitude we all owe those that serve… Thank you.
“Aim to make a difference in someone’s life every single day, including your own.”
I love the first word in this quote. To ‘aim’ means to “to intend or direct for a particular effect or purpose.” How many days do we start out so intentionally? How often is the purpose of making a difference in someone else’s life explicitly defined and measured? How about for your own life? Without aiming you are, by default, choosing to drift without direction.
Take 5 minutes in the morning and in as few words as possible write down the answers to these three questions:
Who’s life do I specifically want to impact?
What am I going to do today to impact the life of that person?
How will I enable my ability to make a difference in someone else’s life by taking care of my own mind, body or spirit?
At the end of the day simply read what you wrote down and give yourself a simple yes/no answer on whether you were successful. Don’t beat yourself up if you didn’t meet your goal. But I’ll bet when you start doing this regularly you’ll have far more ‘yes’s” than ‘no’s.’
You can’t worry about what you did or didn’t do yesterday; but you can learn from it. You can’t worry about what you will or won’t be able to do tomorrow; but you can prepare for it. The key here is to AIM, and then look and see if you hit your target. If not, then start over tomorrow. Making a difference happens one day at a time.
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
I have used this verse as the daily quote before, in fact I used it earlier this year and you can read that blog post here. In that post I wrote about the impact of looking at your day and your life through the lens of answering questions on whether or not you served others and that being the ultimate measure of your success in life.
I chose this verse today thinking about it more as a compass and a guide to start and use throughout the day, not from the perspective as a rear-view mirror. Both viewpoints are important, but in order to measure progress you must first have a clear vision of where you are going.
How effective are you at living a life that is true to this verse on a daily basis? Regardless of your religious beliefs the wisdom here is so incredibly impactful when you apply it to your life and how you live and serve. If you were to truly gauge each decision you make, each action you take, by thinking about this verse before the choice, before the action, would you still take the same course of action?
My challenge to you to day is to pause with each decision you make today and ask yourself who you are serving with the action you are about to take? Be brutally honest with yourself. See if you still like the decision after running it through this filter. You might surprise yourself…