Business Rants

Service Before Self

  • July 27, 2015

The USAF holds forth with three core values:

  1. Integrity First
  2. Service Before Self
  3. Excellence in All We Do

Today I want to beat the drum about the second core value: Service Before Self.

When I was a youth going to religious schools, my teachers drummed into me the concept of “me third.” In this philosophy, God comes first, followed by your family, and your own desires rank a distant third. While I no longer lay claim to any sort of religious world view, that lesson still has power for me.

Who are you, that you should elevate your personal whims above those of everyone around you? What have you personally accomplished that your desires should trump those of your neighbors? IMNSDHO (work it out) far too many people feel entitled to push their own agenda to their benefit at the expense of those around them. You do not exist in isolation, and every single person around you is at least as important as you are.

As stated in the second core value above, your first inclination needs to be to be of service to others, not to push your desires ahead of theirs. It is only through humbling yourself in the service of others that you find the integrity and credibility to consider yourself worthy of striving for a leadership role.

When I went through Officer Training School, a school comprised 100% of future officers and leaders, we spent the first 50% of our training as underclassmen. Servers. Followers. If any of us were revealed as incapable of good followership…well, let’s simply say you did not advance to the next phase of training.

In everyday life I see examples of self-centered people pushing their agenda ahead of others. It happens in traffic, in politics, in the workplace…and it saddens me how little such people “get” what life is about. Everyone around you is a person of equal (or even greater) stature as you. Treat them accordingly, and as you strive to learn to place others ahead of you eventually you will find yourself rising into a deserved leadership role. Trying to get there via any other path is fraught with failure, as you attempt to assume a mantle you have not earned.

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