Self-Expression Through Service

“Everyone can be great because everyone can serve.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Service is the highest form of self-expression” read the title of an editorial in Times of India by Janina Gomes and it got me thinking about service.

I realized that the only way to grow yourself, your teams, your organization is to think about what you have to offer from a service perspective. Who and what do you serve? You can directly serve others or serve a cause that enriches others. We all know about great examples of servant leaders from Gandhi to Mandela. But what about Steve Jobs? I like to think that he devoted his life serving the cause of simplifying technology and design.

But why is service the highest form of self-expression, you may ask?

Because mindset of service subdues the ego and real self-expression (and also learning) cannot happen when you wear a mask of your ego. And the truth is, real service is not about you, it is about purpose and people. And when you think about purpose and receivers of your service, YOU become the medium and not the source. Ego and entitlement must take a back seat if you are truly set out to serve others and when that happens, the whole foundation of your engagement with the cause is transformed.

Gandhi famously said,

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in service of others.”

It doesn’t matter if you are an artist, employee, a team member, a leader or an entrepreneur – you are paid to serve something or someone. Breaking the cocoon of your limited beliefs and thinking about who/what you serve is also a powerful way to also discover your unique purpose.

Here is a quick doodle to encapsulate this wonderful thought!

Also Read at QAspire:

Quick Thought on Leadership and Subordination to a Cause

If you are a manager or leader, you are very likely to have followers whom we commonly refer to as ‘subordinates.’ In an organizational context, subordination refers to a lower position in the hierarchy. A leader is placed at a higher rank and subordinates are at a lower rank. That is the common perception, and also a reality in many organizations even today.

Key question that leaders need to ask themselves – “If people are subordinates, what are they subordinating to?” In my view, people never subordinate other people. They are subordinates to a cause. In that sense, even a leader is a subordinate to a cause.

How sad it is to see that leaders treat other people as ‘their’ subordinates. They are not. Their subordination is towards a cause. The cause of successfully completing the project. The cause of building a memorable organization. The cause of building a great team.

Leaders may be the initiators of such causes. But that does not mean they treat others as ‘their’ subordinates.

It always helps to explain this to your people and align them to a cause. Role of leader is to empower people to achieve the results. Alignment of each team member to goal/results leads to a flat structure where role of a leader is that of an enabler. Leader enables people to bring their best to work. When a leader consistently enables, empowers, motivates and serves his people, he truly subordinates the cause of building a great team that delivers great results.

No one is anyone’s subordinate, but everyone is a subordinate to a cause.

Have a very productive week ahead!

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P.S: Here is a GREAT QUOTE I read over at “Talking Story” blog hosted by Rosa Say. The quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson brilliantly sums up the way one should approach every new day. Here it goes:

“Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense. This day is all that is good and fair. It is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on the yesterdays.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson