So….I’ll tell you. I’ve actually struggled a little bit with the topic of living a life bigger than yourself, or being in business with a focus that is bigger than just yourself. That’s why it took me a little longer to get this message out. Because it is actually hard for me to wrap my head around, what does it actually mean? I know what it means for me….but it’s hard to verbalize it. And when you do some research and find people that live lives bigger than themselves, or live for a cause or grow a business with a purpose bigger than just themselves, it’s hard to find tangible evidence of that happening, even though it takes place often. The most prevalent examples you will find are like Mother Teresa. She dedicated her entire life to serving other people and she was unapologetic about it. And she didn’t like you missed out or lost out, or that her life didn’t deliver individual or personal gain. So I have to tell you that it took a little more time and effort to break this one down. But it’s important because everyone that shares the recipe for greatness cite the importance of living a life or having purpose bigger than yourself. So here is my take on it, this truly my opinion, this is not something I have read, or stuff I have found online or examples that I have seen spelled out for me. I have personally broken down living a life bigger than yourself into two components. Here is what I mean by that. The two areas that I see are; one, servant leadership. And the second is actually having your life grounded in something bigger than yourself.
I am going to dissect each one of these individually. Just starting with the concept of servant leadership, regardless of what you do. Whether it is to be a solopreneur in a one person business or a career or job/employee role, or aspirations to grow a really big multi-location business with many many employees. I think you have to have an element of servant leadership, meaning you have to take the approach of serving others. Whether it be your employees, your customers, or your colleagues. In everything you do you must have a driver and measure for the value you add for them. I am going to pick two areas for this. The solopreneur that runs their own business, maybe a coach or consultant, or someone that sells their own product to their customers. I am also going to talk about that company with multiple employees. Here is what I think that looks like. If you have employees in your business. You have to have some other driver other than just profit. You cannot expect people to be grateful just because they have a job. You cannot expect people to show up every day, and put forth 100% effort, day in and day out, growing your business and building your dream for just a paycheck. While that may work for a little while, it will be really difficult to retain your most talented and valuable employees and it’s going to be incredibly difficult to grow your business to the potential that it has. Here is the first mindset change that you really need to have when thinking about how you appreciate the human element of a business. Understand this, they are building your dream. When they come to work for you, they are giving you something of theirs that is priceless. They are giving you something of theirs that is a limited, finite and non-renewable resource. They are giving you something that they will never get back. Their time. They are trading away the minutes, the hours, days, months and years of their life that they will never get back. To help you build your dream. So you have a moral obligation to that person to make it an equitable transaction. You have to provide something of tremendous value to them that is going to make it worth it to them in trading this finite resource, the only time they will ever get, to make sure your opportunity is adding value to their life. They have to add value to you and your organization, I understand that, and that’s a must, but it also has to make their life better. If you want to be a great leader and a great driver of enterprise, you have to be deliberate in how you develop, manage and measure this. And here’s a couple of ideas; first off and foremost, invest in your employees. Find out what they want to do in life. What are their goals in life, personally and professionally? And on the professional level, and maybe even on the personal level you will be surprised how often times you find an alignment between their aspirations and your aspirations and your organization’s aspiration. And when you can find that connection and make that clear for them you will have an employee that is engaged and feels that they are adding value in something. But here is the caveat…you have to help them on that journey. You have to help them, you have to invest in them; you have to provide training to them. You have to help them on this journey. You have to help them become the best versions of themselves. Because that is the only way that they will provide their full potential to your organization, which will fuel your organization to greatness. As well as accomplish your aspirations and your dreams. What I mean by this, let’s say for sake of argument that you want to be an international company and you want to do business in Central America, or any other Spanish speaking country. And you have a great employee that has a dream of learning Spanish; that is a great opportunity to invest in that person to help them learn that language so they can continue to grow in your organization and add value to their life. These are the obligations that you have to the people that build your dream. If you want to be a servant leader you have to be on the lookout for these opportunities. You have to look for ways to add values to your employee’s lives that makes their efforts worth it to the company and also makes their efforts worth it to their own well-being and their own life. You cannot expect the help, assistance and development to go only one way. You cannot expect them to show up every day and do everything for you. You will occasionally have to get in the trenches, roll up your sleeves and say “let me come along side of you and help you out with this because you and your efforts here matter to me.” That is the example of servant leadership that great leaders practice that most companies do not employ. I think most companies generally take advantage of the human element and yet they don’t understand why they are not top performing organizations, why they are getting to where they want to go or why they are not realizing the potential they have. Now….solopreneurs out there…I understand you are not going to have employees. Maybe you don’t want employees or maybe you don’t need employees. That doesn’t mean that you still don’t have an obligation to be a servant leader. The reason you are in business is because of your clients; because of your customers. So…you have to realize their exchanging something with you, their money and their time to an extent, to help you build your dream. If you are a solopreneur and you’re a coach and one of your aspirations is to live an incredible lifestyle with great travel, and cars and houses and toys and experiences and all the things you want to have in your life; whatever is important to you….you’re trying to achieve that through your business. And the only way that happens is by customers giving you their hard earned money. You have to realize that you are in business for…AND BECAUSE… of your customers. So you have to make sure you are serving them. So you are not just providing a product or service to them and that’s good enough…NO NO NO…that’s not where it stops. You have to realize what are their goals and aspirations, what are they trying to achieve as an individual or organization. And how can your product or service help them get there. You HAVE to take it to that level. You have to help them achieve their goals and their dreams and their objectives. If they have revenue targets, figure out how you can help them achieve it. If they have efficiency targets, figure out how you can help them achieve those. Try to be involved, try to be a genuine, authentic and caring business partner to them. That is going to add value to the extent that they will not question the investment into your company in acquiring or purchasing your product or service. That is paramount. If you go at it from this approach if you say “How can I help you do this better”? “How can my service help your company be better”? “How can I help you achieve your organizational objectives”? And you answer those questions with a genuine answer, instead of “how do I profit off of your company?” you will go much further, much faster. It will be sustainable and it will be legacy. So…that is the servant leadership piece of living a life that is bigger than yourself.
Now the other component that I have found is being grounded in something that is bigger than you. This can mean a lot of different things for a lot of different people. For me it’s my faith. As a Christian, I serve a big God that can do whatever he wants. And I am grateful for what he has provided to me and I understand he can take it away at any moment. And I a faithful follower in that because I am thankful for the grace he has given me. Not out of obligation, but out of appreciation. And I understand that it may not be faith for you. I get that. But it has to be something bigger than yourself. It can be your family, it can be your community, it can be a cause that you deeply believe in. Just something that you are doing because you are grateful for what you get from being a part of it. If you love your community and being a part of it, and you are excited because they do great things and you want to help them continue being great…you have to align your personal objectives with the objectives of that community. How can you help them be the best community there is to really add the value that you appreciate, and that others appreciate, out of being members of that community? And when I say community, it can be civically, it can literally be the municipality you live in. It can be a group of business professionals that you belong to, it can be an organization, whatever the community around you that you plug into, that you receive value from. You need be thinking of that and that is something that is bigger than you. It could be your family you know, and that’s ok. You have to understand what does your family want to achieve. What does your spouse want to achieve. What do your kids want to achieve, what are their goals and aspirations in life. And if you look at that and you try to answer that question genuinely and authentically how do you help them achieve that, and what does that plan look like in comparison to your plan to achieve your goals, and what are the synergies. You have to connect those dots, and you have to have everyone involved in the conversation, and agree that Together we are going to achieve this. This is how I think that I can help add value to your goals, do you agree? This is how I think you can help add value to my plan to reach my goals, does that make sense? That is the conversation that you need to have and it needs to be deliberate and it needs to be thoughtful and it needs to be consistent and continuous. And you have to always be having that conversation and be aligning yourself with something that is bigger than yourself. That is the only way that you can grow to your full potential, and I will tell you why. In both of those scenarios of living a life that is bigger than yourself, as I touched on in my last episode on limiting beliefs as the first thing we need to get past as entrepreneurs if we want to achieve greatness. Everybody has limiting beliefs. Everyone has some form of limiting beliefs. Even the most incredible and amazing people in the world. Everyone has some form of head trash that they have to get past. That’s just the way it is, it’s the human condition. SO you have to realize that if you focus only on serving yourself and living a life for yourself, you will automatically be limited because you can only grow as big as your limiting beliefs will allow you to grow. However, when you attach yourself to a cause that is bigger than yourself that is going to bleed in or add a certain level of accountability, this will help you crash through those limiting beliefs, it will help you discard those limiting beliefs, because you will have to. Because you will realize those limiting beliefs are there and you will start to see them as a barrier instead of a ceiling. And you will realize that you have to get through it, if you are going to help these people that you made commitments to to achieve their objectives or goals. So that is why you need to plug into something bigger than yourself. It is evident and critical if you want to achieve the full potential that you have and if you want to achieve greatness.