In order to achieve real impact, the kind that changes your life and the life of others, you need to start thinking of others first. f you need help looking beyond yourself, and thinking of others first, I want to give you some practical advice. But before I do, I want to be open about what made the difference for me. It was my faith.
As a person of faith, I'm most inspired to put others first by looking at the life of Christ. He once asked his disciples, who were bickering over positions and titles, he asks them, "who would you rather be, the one who eats the dinner, or the one who serves the dinner? You'd rather eat and be served, right? But I've taken my place among you as one who serves." Christ always valued others, and put them and their needs first.
Putting others first is at the heart of my Christian faith. We've said the Lord's prayer more times than I can count, and I realized that the prayer is very community centered. It took me years to understand that when I said the Lord's prayer, it wasn't about me. The focus is always on us. When we say the Lord's prayer, we pray for others just as much as for ourselves. It's a very inclusive prayers. This is a prayer that promotes a life that matters.
I recently read this poem by Charles Roirdan, and it reads:
You cannot pray the Lord's prayer, and even once say 'I'
You cannot pray the Lord's prayer, and even once say 'my'
Nor can you pray the Lord's prayer, and not pray for another
For to ask for our daily bread,
You include yourself and your brother
All of God's children are included in each and every plea,
From the begging to the end, it does not once say 'me'.
If you're a person of faith, this may speak to you too. But you don't have to be a person of faith to start putting others first. No matter what you believe, you probably sense that putting others first is the right thing to do. If you need helps taking steps away from self-centeredness and towards significance, try doing the following:
1. Develop a greater appreciation for others. Why we lead: to bring out the very best in others for outstanding results. Who brings out the best in you? Make a list of people who have added value to your life. You'll find that there isn't a week that goes by that you don't take action on something related to what was given to you by one of these people. When you take time to list the ways others have sewn richly into your life, your greatest motivation to add value to others will be to do for others what so many have done for you. Making this kind of list will remind us that we are not self-made men. (or women). None of us can really claim to do anything alone. We need others. And we should value them.
2. Ask to hear others' stories. Everyone you meet has a story. And we can easily lose sight of this as we go through our busy days trying to get things done. But how do we counteract this? Slow down, and pull our heads out of our own bellybuttons. Do you know the stories of the people in your life? Where they come from? Their hopes and dreams? Their fears and struggles? Their struggles? Their defining moments? Have you asked what they aspire to, and what motivates them? In the words of Andy Stanton, "frankly, there isn't anyone you couldn't learn to love once you've heard their story." Hearing people's stories is a great way to get outside of yourself. Not only will their stories inspire you to help them, they'll show you how you can help them.
3. Put yourself in other's shoes. There was a great article in the news about a couple who were in a restaurant celebrating their anniversary. But they didn't experience the romantic evening they were hoping for. The waiter was overwhelmed and the service was awful. People around them were making fun of the restaurant and how bad the service was. After taking a look around, the couple noticed their waiter was waiting 12 tables by himself. The restaurant was understaffed, but he was doing the best job he could, under the circumstances. He remained upbeat, pleasant, and apologetic throughout the meal. Both the husband and wife had been servers earlier in life, recognized he had been set up to fail, but was doing the best he could despite that. So they left him a $100 tip, with a note that read, "been in your shoes, paying it forward." You just need to make an effort to see from that person's point of view. You'll be amazed what it could do for your perspective and your attitude.
4. Prioritize others' interests. If you get to know people, appreciate who they are, know their stories, and put yourself in their shoes, then you begin to understand what their interests are. What will you do with that information? Use it to serve them. When we get up every day, we have one of two mindsets: what we will reap, or what we will sew. Are you waiting for others to do something for you, or are you busy looking for something to do for others. People who get outside themselves, and make a difference, are looking for ways to sew.
5. Making winning a group activity. Early in life, I thought life was an individual sprint. But life is really more like a relay race. While winning an individual race is great, crossing a finish line with your team is better. Not only is it more fun; it's more fulfilling.
Create impact through others.