The topic of initiative and service has come up frequently for me recently and I thought it would be appropriate to share some insights with you that I have gained over the last couple months. It seems rare to see folks take initiative. Maybe even extremely rare.
About ten years ago, I was given a book that my team read together. The book was written by Kirk Weisler and is called The Dog Poop initiative. It’s not a long or complicated read and it’s actually a great book to read to your children. Now I won’t spoil it for you but I’ll tell you that Kirk distinguishes the difference between those who point out problems, even going to great lengths to keep others from experiencing the ill-effects of a run-in with the problem, and those who will take the initiative to address the problem.
It’s a great story that vividly demonstrates the difference between “pointers” and “scoopers”. If you are a regular listener to this podcast, I consider you a “scooper” – someone who isn’t afraid to take action even if it means getting dirty and doing stinky work. But there’s more.
In December, Ginger and I went down to Phoenix, AZ for the graduation celebration of our future daughter-in-law, Mari Sinn. That was a sweet time, but what I didn’t know was that there was a very famous commencement speaker there that day, Dr. Rick Rigsby. You won’t be surprised to learn that a point of emphasis in his commencement address to the graduating class at GCU was their need to take initiative and SERVE. He emphasized not missing opportunities.
He said we over-complicate serving. It’s really simple: you see the thing that needs to be done and do it. Part of growing from a boy or girl into a man or woman is doing what needs to be done. Living it out by example is where the lessons become real. We have to model the behavior. But for some, the resistance to serve builds up and prevents us from acting.
We wonder “Why should I pick up that paper towel?” “Is it my job to clean up my coworker’s dishes?” Every woman has asked why she should pick up her husband’s or children’s underwear. Dr. Rigsby describes it as grabbing the servants towel. Don’t be so impressed with yourself that you don’t serve. We were meant to serve each other and must prevent our ego from convincing us that our status absolves us from serving. Serving doesn’t make you virtuous though.
I’ve mentioned DeVon Franklin’s book The Hollywood Commandments on this podcast a few times, but I want to share a few thoughts from his book about service. First, he said “Before you can lead, you have to serve.” He calls it carrying a crown before wearing one. Second, he offers some perspectives on service:
Four Perspectives On Service:
- It is not servitude
- Service does not mean being servile
- You can serve someone without having access to them
- It requires commitment to the process
Great Quotes From This Episode:
“An opportunity missed is an opportunity lost.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Will Durant
“Ego is the anesthesia that deadens the pain of stupidity.” – Frank Leahy
“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.’ – Muhammad Ali
Resources Mentioned In This Episode:
Leader to Leader Podcast Episode #43 where Ginger and I discuss why looking forward can be as distracting as looking back
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