One of my seven granddaughters — Charlotte, the three-year-old — cheerfully reminded me of this truth. As they say, out of the mouths of babes!
Through example and repetition, her mother — my daughter — is teaching her daughter a foundational lesson. One that most humans learn to their unending profit. But, oddly, without an explanation rooted in self-interest (We never explained it quite that way to our children).
Self-interest moves into sharp focus as we move from sharing toys, as children, to sharing knowledge, as adults. This is true even when sharing what we think to be “knowledge” … that later turns out not to be particularly knowledgeable.
If you know me, and have approached my (now virtual) desk, you’ve likely been greeted with: “How may I serve you?”
This always brings a smile. The unfamiliar recipient is likely thinking, “Is this guy serious?” To be honest, the formulation is meant to engender a smile. But the simple truth is: Yes, I’m drop-dead serious.
How may I serve you? How may I be useful to your ends? Even just a little bit, which may be the most I can muster on a given day.
We are successful — today and in the future — only because we serve others.
It’s astonishing to meet people who hold still hold knowledge close to the vest. As if they’ll somehow command a special place of value, because only they know a particular set of facts. Or maybe they believe they don’t have something valuable to contribute. Both reasons are nonsense. Those days are long gone, if they were ever with us.
I now write a blog to serve you, dear reader, purely out of self-interest. I post on LinkedIn, if you’ve paused on one of my posts, purely out of self-interest. Because I’ve always been certain that I’m successful to the extent that I’ve contributed to the success of others. Even just a little bit.
To wrap it up — and you saw this coming — I encourage you to participate. Because it’s in your self-interest.
First and foremost, it clarifies your thinking and sharpens your communication skills. The ability to explain what you’ve learned — succinctly and effectively — is a valuable skill that requires practice (and benefits from feedback and questions).
Secondarily, it builds personal brand by demonstrating competence and establishing credibility. Sharing is as valuable to you as it is to your audience. Finally, even if you put it it all on the table — and I frequently do when I write — it’s clear that the recipient is getting value, but only a minuscule bit of the value and context you bring to bear in full engagement mode.
Get going. Now. Today is the day. Comment on a post. Create your own post. Write a blog! Whatever you do, share. Without reservation.
In the immortal words of Red Green (my idea of humor): “If the women don’t find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.” Loosely translated from Canadian to US English, it expresses the same sentiment as “caring is sharing.”
Now, seriously. How may I serve you?