Engage in a Higher Cause
When going through difficult times, it is often easy to become selfish and while focusing on oneself, it is easy to withdraw and be less engaged. What I’ve found, however, is that when we are going through hard times, it is best to serve others who are having even greater difficulty. By doing this, it lessens the emphasis on our problems.
The idea of being a servant leader was written about by Robert Greenleaf in a book published in 1908 titled Servant. In the book, he makes the point that to be a servant to others we must subordinate our interest to the interest of others. I believe it is of our very nature to give of ourselves to enhance the lives of our fellow beings.
Each of us has the opportunity to do good, engaging in a cause greater than ourselves, and doing so is instrumental in developing as a leader.
STEP 1 – TAKE CARE OF OTHERS
The first step is to seek out the interest of others while reducing the interest in ourselves. It is the capacity to elevate the lives of others beyond their own capacity to do so at that moment in time. It is a hand-up rather than a hand-out. It is not about seeking individual recognition, but rather recognizing the opportunity to raise someone else to a higher place. The old quote, “A rising tide, raises all boats,” should suggest to us that we are the rising tide, and it is our privilege and opportunity to help raise all boats.
Service starts incrementally and then becomes immersive. When our heart and our passion are in service, we tend to extend ourselves more and more frequently. As we do that, we learn increasingly more about ourselves and how we can help the world.
STEP 2 – LEAD WITH YOUR HEART
Regardless of where we find ourselves in life, we should lift those around us to a higher level. Sometimes that means a pat on the back, a hug or a smile, a kind word, or a handshake. It’s recognizing and elevating people. The Manchu Tribe has an interesting saying: “If you hear it, you will forget it. If you read it, you will remember it. But if you do it, you will understand it.” Service is about doing, and in doing, we find understanding. When we lead with our hearts in service, we lift those around us up too.
Years ago, Maslow built his hierarchy of needs. In the early stages of the hierarchy, needs are about survival—food, air, water, shelter. Next, needs become things that help the mind—self-actualization, and self-esteem, and then things that help the soul. Right before Maslow died, he started writing about transcendence, a state that he was adding to his hierarchy of needs. Transcendence is the state of having a higher purpose or a greater calling. This is a higher state of being and represents our greatest potential service to others.
STEP 3 – ALIGN YOUR BODY, HEART, MIND, and SOUL
The third step of engaging in a cause greater than self is the alignment of body, heart, mind, and soul in service to others. It’s ideally where we want to be.
Sometimes when we’re going through our challenges it’s difficult to see the higher purpose. Our vision is often clouded by our focus on self. However, if we just give a little of our time and our heart to others who are on their journey, we will find we have greater purpose and commitment. We will feel better about what we’re doing.
I once read a proverb that said. “I asked not for a lighter burden but for broader shoulders.” Many of us in this time of difficulty need not worry so much about the burden we’ve been given but rather how broad are our shoulders to carry our burden and the burden of others. Extend kindness, have empathy, and show our humanity to others in need.
To learn more about engaging in a higher cause, read The Leader Within Us: Mindset, Principles, and Tools for a Life By Design or visit warrenrustand.com.