Serving Professional Relationships
As a fan, I may get too passionate about my sports teams. There are unconfirmed stories out there about tearful losses. As a mother, I try not to push sports too hard on my sons. They don’t need to be super stars. I just need them to learn what it means to be part of a team. So much of life’s success gets determined by our ability to be a good teammate.
Being a part of a team teaches you to focus on the world outside of your own needs. Being a part of a team teaches you to give more than you take.
The month of March is a fantastic time to enjoy college basketball. (And I plan to partake of my fair share). March is also a great time to serve all the teams listed above.
Below you will find a link to the Simply Service “Service Madness” bracket. There are 64 acts of service ready to face off against each other. See which ones you’re most inspired to do this month. May the best service win!
Service Madness Bracket
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD: SimplyServiceMarchBracket
What lessons have sports taught you about service?
Picture yourself in my kitchen two nights ago. My husband and I just got home from work. I came into the kitchen a little later than him. I’d just hung up my coat and was starting to think about dinner. Here’s the exchange that followed.
Him: “Were things really crazy getting the kids out this morning?”
Me: “No, not really? School had a 2 hour delay because of the weather. I had extra time.”
Him: “Oh, because you left the cereal out on the counter.”
Me: “Oh ok. Sorry.” (Meanwhile I’m wondering where he’s going with this conversation.)
Him: “…And then I saw that you put the milk away in the pantry.”
Me: “Wow. I really didn’t sleep well last night.”
Sleep matters. For most of us, it matters a lot. The only thing that makes being sleepy better is getting more sleep. I want to make that clear because this post will not help you with being sleepy. It can ONLY help you with being tired. Being tired is a completely different animal than sleepy. Tired is more about energy and motivation. Sleepy is about a physical need to restore your systems. But it can be hard to distinguish them from each other. The chart below has some examples that might help you tell them apart.
|“I wonder if anyone would notice if I got 15 minutes of sleep here at my desk.”||“I don’t really feel like taking a nap, but I do feel like laying in my bed.”|
|“I keep trying to get online, but the light from the screen is giving me a headache.”||“Wow, have I been on this site for two hours? I can’t get anything done today.”|
|“Where did I put my keys? Not again!”||“Since I’ve gotten up and gotten my keys, I should probably head to the grocery store. But man, I really don’t feel like it!”|
|“God, please give me the strength to feed these kids tonight.”||“Why can’t these kids feed themselves yet?”|
So are you sleepy or are you tired? If you’re sleepy, stop reading and at least rest your eyes. If you’re tired, read on.
- Chances are good that you will be getting up tomorrow. Life is short, but more than likely it will be pretty long. It’s probable that you will get up tomorrow and the next day and the day after that. Point being – You are going to have a lot of waking hours to pass time in.
- You will be putting in work. If you have any obligations such as family, friends, and/or a job you will be performing work during a large part of your waking hours. Point being – Doing things that need to get done is going to be a required part of your day every day.
Can we agree on these two things? Sounds simple.
Getting up and putting in work will likely happen every day of our lives. We are going to do it regardless of how we feel about it. But what if putting in work partially feed us with energy instead of merely draining it? That’s basically what “inspired action” is. Inspired action is also a type of work but it’s work that feeds us emotionally. That’s different from plain-old “action” which is work we have to do because we’re awake and we have responsibilities. In many small ways, we can shift our thinking toward viewing work as inspired action. Most if not all of that shift has to do with intentionally trying to serve others. This can be done in small ways while doing your daily routine. Inspired action leaves you more connected and energized. Since we’re going to be awake and putting in work anyway, it just feels better to be serving others.
And it makes us A LOT less tired.
Don’t believe me? Try it for three days. I don’t mean taking time off from your job to do more community service. I’m talking about serving as part of your normal day. Easy examples are letting someone in front of you in traffic, correcting a small problem for someone on your job, or getting a meal on the table for dinner. Consciously and intentionally think of everything you do as service and then see how you feel.
Are you tired enough to try it?
About a week ago, we had an opportunity to talk with college-bound teenagers about money. We had their full attention once they saw the charts of average starting salaries for different fields of study. Clearly graduates from some fields (mostly in the hard sciences and technical disciplines) made much more money than others. Some fields required additional graduate degrees and that meant a potential for larger student loan debt.
We still encouraged the students to follow their talents and passions. We talked to them about how passion would play out in the long run which was loosely defined as 10-15 years into their career. It’s passion that drives people to work harder, smarter and network better. Then those passionate people get promoted, make more money and far outpace their peers financially. Passion is still an important factor for long term financial success.
Honest Conversations About Money
So why even give them the starting salary data if we still think they should consider any field they like? The point was to have an honest conversation about money. It was to help them make an informed decision about which field to pursue. It’s a complex decision. We also discussed the social and emotional impact of making more or less money than their peers at any stage of life. We acknowledged that some jobs would always pay less than others even if they’re successful at them. This talk was to help them make decisions about their life and the role money will play in it. Deciding how important each factor is to them is something they will have to do on their own.
Even as adults we are often left uninformed about the social and emotional factors surrounding money. When I was single, it was hard to make decisions and place priorities on my money. Should I save more for a rainy day or take a trip with my family? When I got married again it became even more clear that I needed to learn and communicate my financial needs better. I say “needs” and not “wants” because how much we derive pleasure, connection and/or security from money is core to who we are. These factors aren’t simple preferences that can be ignored. This is something you may already know if you’ve ever managed money with someone that doesn’t share your financial values.
Luckily, there are resources to help us get informed about our financial preferences and have more honest conversations about money with each other. The link below will take you to an online tool that will ”find your money mind” and uncover your personal biases about money’s value. A friend suggested this site to me and I wanted to pass it on.
Three Types of “Money Minds”
- Happiness: The Pleasure Seeker
- Committed: The Giver
- Fear: The Protector
Once you take the quiz for yourself you can also take it with someone you manage money with. This will give you insight into your collective priorities and styles. You will also get communication tips to have better and more honest conversations about your needs.
So what does this have to do with service? Everything. Money has a huge impact on our relationships and resources. Our relationships and resources will have everything to do with how and who we serve.
Who else wants to have an honest conversation about money?
A few days ago, I was talking to an online friend (that I don’t know well in real life). He was dealing with suddenly becoming internet famous and not knowing how to adjust to it. I have absolutely no experience in being famous so I could only offer my real life experience of adjusting to divorce and remarriage. Throughout the conversation I kept referencing things my husband and I had recently discussed. He asked, “Do you two typically have such deep conversations?” And this is where Deac comes in.
Let me tell you a little more about Deac. He sleeps a ton, but when he’s awake he has a lot to say. He is sarcastic and witty. He is short tempered and fiercely loyal. He has an ongoing vendetta with my super sweet mother that happens to not be “a dog person”. He thinks he outranks the kids and they should constantly “freshen up his water”. And he has apparently lived a life full of celebrity interactions and coincidental brushes with current events. We talk about Deac and what Deac told us often. By often, I mean every day. By every day, I mean several times a day. It’s funny. We like it.
And it allows us to not take life so seriously.
Service can seem like a serious topic. It gets people thinking about the big things in life – love, legacy, and purpose. But it doesn’t have to be so serious and it doesn’t have to take up a lot of time. Below are 10 easy ways to serve in 5 minutes or less. So you can start serving right now.
10 ways to serve in 5 minutes or less
- Tell someone a joke. Laughter is good for the heart.
- Save someone from a work conversation they aren’t enjoying. “Hey I hate to interrupt, but can I borrow you for two minutes”.
- Actually take your reusable bags into the store with you.
- Actually take your reusable cup into Starbucks with you.
- Contact an elected official via social media to quickly advocate for a cause you believe in.
- Pray for someone.
- Make a small online donation to a charity you support.
- Teach someone something. Anything.
- Text someone a specific compliment. (e.g. I admire how much patience you have with me).
- Give someone you love your undivided attention.
This is just a start.
What other ideas do you have?
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of walking my extremely wonderful and recently divorced friend through setting up her eHarmony profile. I was impressed with the depth of the questioning process. One of the questions took a long time to answer because it steered our conversation off-topic. It asked her to select the type of religion(s) or spiritual affiliations that she seeks in a potential mate. There were many options and she could select all that she would be willing to consider. One option was “Spiritual, but not religious”. She had a hard timing imagining exactly what that meant.
I shared with her my perspective though I’m not in any way suggesting that this is an official or all-encompassing description. It is just how I view the distinction between “spiritual” and “religious”. For me, the word “spiritual” refers to a core set of beliefs. The most universal is the belief in a supernatural force that exists in the world. Spiritual people may call this God, the universe, or many other names but it always relates to the idea that there is an unseen order in the world. This order can’t be proved empirically or through our senses, but a spiritual person still believes in this concept. I view “religion” as the particular set of rules and rituals that a spiritual person guides their life path by. So in that sense, all religious people should be spiritual. But all spiritual people don’t have to be religious. They may choose to pursue their spiritual path on their own and without engaging with organized religion.
There are other concepts that are typically believed by “spiritual people”. Some examples are:
- Faith that positive things will occur. (Also called “trust in the universe” or “setting intentions” and many other names.)
- Giving thanks for what you currently have.
- Believing that life is a series of lessons and that negative things happen for the purpose of teaching those lessons.
- The importance and power of setting time to build a deeper spiritual connection. (This is called by many names from prayer to meditation to advanced yoga practices.)
When I think of the last bullet, I realize that I’ve tried all three of the examples and have absolutely felt a deeper spiritual connection while doing them. I now see serving others as a spiritual practice similar to prayer. There are three things that I look to get from my prayer or meditation time. At times, I have experienced each of those things while serving.
- It clears my mind of the non-stop internal chatter. When I’m focused on serving others, I’m also enjoying the rare mental silence that allows my heart to awaken with spiritual awareness.
- I’m not focused on myself or the importance of my place in this world. I feel part of a system that connects us all at our core. This concept reminds me of a quote I once read (but can’t for the life of me remember who wrote it) that described people feeling like individuals to waves feeling separate from the ocean.
- There is a peace that comes over me. It is like I briefly understand my place in the world before my mind wakes back up and starts telling me how important I am again.
I know these are very hard concepts to get across through writing, but I believe that many have experienced these through their own spiritual practice. I hope some of you have experienced this through the practice of service. If you have, I’d love for you to share it with me. I’d love for you to share it with others. No pressure though, I’m happy to have shared a connection to you just because you chose to read this. Until next week, serve on!
The title above is from a recent cell phone carrier commercial. I like this commercial. It shows kids being asked to value which one is better “more or less?”. Of course the kids say “More!” This commercial is meant to highlight that using their carrier’s service is almost a “no brainer”, something kids could easily choose. In theory you would always choose something “better” if you knew for sure it was of higher value, but that assumes you can easily compare the value of things. In my experience, you rarely can. This is especially true when you introduce human needs into the equation. I won’t even try to discuss the complexity of selecting the right romantic mate for yourself. But, I’m sure you get the idea.
THE VALUE OF YOUR SERVICE
What is interesting to me is that there seems to be unspoken value judgments placed on service. I will call this the “more is better” valuation. This is the idea that the more people your service impacts the more value it has. For example, caring for your one baby does not have as much value as working to provide clean drinking water to thousands of people. Think about that for a moment. Please actually take a moment and a break from reading and decide if you agree with that statement. Does more lives impacted equal more valuable service? Most people never thought about it, but they feel it. They feel it in whose service they consider honorable and whose service they ignore. They feel it in what service impact they hope to leave as a legacy and what they think will be unimpressive. But you won’t find that thinking here.
You will find a challenge to serve deeply and more broadly when life allows. You will find a challenge to serve fully and to serve better. Then after you’ve served better there will be a challenge to serve better than that. Why? Because better is better, but know that any act of serve or any act of genuine caring and love will be valued here. Below is the a list of the five ways this blog will categorize service and encourage you to serve others. Some of you will spend an entire lifetime mainly in one category while others will find seasons of life for them all. I can almost guarantee you that you will not have the capacity to serve well in all five categories at once. So please don’t set that expectation for yourself. Nobody can serve all missions or in all categories so you will have to explore what is the right match for you. All you need right now is to decide that however and wherever you are serving today, you will serve better tomorrow. I plan to serve better tomorrow.
- Serving Personal Relationships: Giving time and energy to the people you know well and are emotionally invested in. You will have the deepest connection and impact with this group. This is worthy service.
- Serving Professional Relationships: Using your unique abilities to make a positive impact in the work environment. We spend a lot of our lives in our place of business and it’s a worthy place to serve, but one often overlooked.
- Serving Community: This is usually the first type of service that comes to mind. Efforts spent here can have immediate life changing benefits to those served. This is worthy service.
- Serving Country: There are those that serve their country directly (and their families serve along with them), but there are also a host of organizations and services that support the US military and those in foreign service. Further, there are many other ways that civilians can serve their country. They are all worthy service.
- Serving the World: This is about thinking beyond borders and addressing issues that affect mankind as a whole. This is doing your part to fight for global causes that have wide reaching impact. This is worthy service.
Feel passionate about a certain area, but not sure where to start? How are you focusing your area of service and has it changed over the years? Tell us about it. Serve on!