Why Giving Our Best Self to the Greater Good Matters

March 10, 2014

One of my primary definitions of leadership is ‘giving one’s best self in the interest of the greater good.’

Coaching Moment for SDL1comp

Most of us see our leadership within the boundaries of the leadership roles we play at work. We give our best at work to get the results expected of us, and in return, get back recognition and rewards. This is the reciprocity mindset we generally operate within. It’s a useful paradigm for our personal interests. It allows us to focus, keeps our minds busy, our days full, and offers us a much needed sense of achievement. It has merits.

But—where does ‘giving one’s best self to the greater good’ fit within our reciprocity mindset?  Or, does it?

  • Where am I willing to fore-go my reciprocity mindset to give generously, compassionately and without a self-serving agenda?
  • How do I personally define ‘the greater good’ and how do I contribute to it?
  • In a hurting world, how do I re-gift my gratitude for all I am and all I’ve been given?

We are always limiting ourselves when we fail to pay homage to our highest selves and the greater good. It strikes me that our world needs every leader to practice moving beyond our reciprocity mindset into unrecognized actions serving the greater good.  The high price of us not doing so will be borne by our children and generations to come.

This poem written by James Patrick Kinney, tells a simple, poignant story of how staying stuck in our limiting mindsets keeps us from giving our ‘best self in the interest of the greater good’—and the unfolding dramatic consequences.

The Cold Within

Six humans trapped by happenstance
In bleak and bitter cold.
Each one possessed a stick of wood
Or so the story’s told.

Their dying fire in need of logs
The first man held his back
For of the faces round the fire
He noticed one was black.

The next man looking ‘cross the way
Saw one not of his church
And couldn’t bring himself to give
The fire his stick of birch.

The third one sat in tattered clothes.
He gave his coat a hitch.
Why should his log be put to use
To warm the idle rich?

The rich man just sat back and thought
Of the wealth he had in store
And how to keep what he had earned
From the lazy shiftless poor.

The black man’s face bespoke revenge
As the fire passed from his sight.
For all he saw in his stick of wood
Was a chance to spite the white.

The last man of this forlorn group
Did nought except for gain.
Giving only to those who gave
Was how he played the game.

Their logs held tight in death’s still hands
Was proof of human sin.
They didn’t die from the cold without
They died from the cold within.

It’s hard to admit that I have not always ‘given my best self for the greater good,’ but now that I understand it, I’m inspired to help other good people consider it within the framework of their business leadership.

We get daily opportunities to look beyond ourselves and within ourselves to discover where we can serve. Giving our best selves in the interest of the greater good—it’s within us and incumbent on us.

Happy Monday!

Warm regards,

Ann Stanbra

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