For many highly educated and motivated individuals, finding the path to great success usually follows a path lined with personal accomplishment and reward. The speed at which they rise to greatness is directly proportional to size of their achievements. More responsibility leads to greater accountability, ultimately leading to greater success or so we think. There are a few who suggest otherwise. These highly successful people identify with service as the prime mover in their professional growth.
In building a successful career, it’s important to focus some of your effort on demonstrating your skills by helping others. I’m not suggesting that you become a full fledge philanthropist, donating all of your time to great causes to become the recipients of Oprah’s Big Give. We don’t all have that calling, nor do we have luxury to dedicate our lives to solely this purpose. But there is great benefit to doing what we can.
Some great examples of success through service include Oprah, Wayne Dyer, and Kelly Preston. Note that these individuals have professional careers. Their selfless giving isn’t what they are known for but it is, as they proclaim, the key to their overwhelming success.
I had to learn this lesson, as I do most of the important ones, the hard way. After I graduated with my first graduate degree, I was dead set on showing others what I could do. I felt I had a lot to show off and that I was an asset to the company. I expected the company to give me the opportunity to demonstrate them and would promptly reward me.
I was ready and willing to work even harder than I had to get that graduate degree. Believe me, it was pretty tough. I was working full time, raising three kids and attending college. Time and effort were things I had given for years and I was ready for something to be given back. Maybe this is what blinded me to what I really needed to be doing.
The energy I was expending during those years of development were spent for me. I was building my expertise in hopes that it would lead me to a better job that paid with money, opportunity and exciting work. Was I in a state of entitlement? Maybe so. I had put a lot of effort into preparing myself to be the best at whatever my company asked so I felt they should be ready to reward me for it.
My focus was on me. When the opportunities didn’t come, I wasn’t able to show off my game. My job satisfaction tanked. The direction I expected was 180 degrees from where I was headed. I couldn’t figure it out. I misread my surroundings as a lack of knowledge and skills. So, I went back to school to get an MBA and learn the business side of things.
After I graduated with my MBA, I took an interest in career development and began writing about it. I spoke with many college students and graduates to learn about their experiences and to see if they were following my path. They had many questions too. Eventually, I became concerned about what they were feeling and began helping them.
What I didn’t realize was that I began investing my time in helping them. While I was being a coach, I wasn’t thinking about myself and the reward I was getting for what I knew, at least not in terms of money and opportunities. Little did I know that I had entered the “Giving Zone.”
No longer did I need recognition of my abilities from those sitting in the corner office. My clients and friends were giving me all I needed. They asked for help, I provided it and we worked together to help them overcome their challenges.
The more I gave, the more I was asked to give but not just by the students and graduates. I eventually was engaged by universities and businesses to share what I was learning about these high performers. Others wanted to know more about them, such as what motivates them, when do they burn out, when do they lose interest and so on. People keep asking, I keep responding and success keeps following.
Now imagine the resources Oprah, Wayne Dyer and Kelly Preston possess. They can help a lot of people, all at once, resulting in a lot of success for everyone. That’s a winning proposition.
Ghandi once said, "The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others." This certainly works. It will help you redefine success and what it takes to achieve it. You’ll find satisfaction in the success of others. Put your skills and talents to use in a way that identifies you as a leader and a contributor to society. Sure, you can get an advanced degree, complete complex tasks and prove that you can be successful. But can you use your talents to make others successful? That’s the sign of a true leader.
If I can be of service to you, just let me know how.