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We'll Never Know


That will be certainly one of the upsides of going through this COVID-19 Pandemic together. Most of us have never seen anything like this. Governmental officials declaring stay at home orders. Toilet paper, hand sanitizers, and disinfecting sprays flying off store shelves. The economy and businesses shut down. Massive stimulus packages to go along with massive layoffs and unemployment. Never-ending hand washing and facial masks. It is and will continue to be a challenge. We’ve done all of this, however, with one purpose in mind. To protect ourselves and as many of our friends and neighbors as possible from contracting the Coronavirus Flu. It hasn’t been easy and it continues to be a challenge.

That is what is so remarkable. We’re doing all of this and more: fundraisers for businesses trying to get back on their feet, individuals and groups making millions of facial masks (and some are very creative!), companies turning over their plants for ventilator production. All in an effort to do one thing: to serve others first! Please hold on to that thought.

What It Really Means

I have the unique privilege and opportunity of helping businesses and organizations rebuild their cultures. There’s a lot that has been written and said about the benefits, qualities, and necessary elements needed to build a great culture. I do believe, like many others, that a great culture is “the” competitive advantage. No one, and I mean no one, can duplicate a company’s great culture once it is established. Why? Because great cultures are made up of the individuals in the organization and when the majority of individuals in that organization grab onto the one thing that makes all the difference in the world they cannot be stopped. What is the one thing that makes all the difference in the world? To serve others first! Much emphasis has been placed on what I call the “externals”: nice workspace, amenities, benefits, etc. Those are good and they help. What really matters, however, are the “internals”, the “inside out” work. What I call the motivation behind the behavior. You can engage in the exact same behavior with different motivations and achieve an entirely different outcome. My best analogy to describe this concept I call “The Gift”. If someone buys you a gift, what really makes it a gift? The reason they bought it for you. If they bought it just because they knew you’d enjoy it with no strings attached, that’s a gift. If they bought it expecting a gift in return, for you to think better of them, to make sure you “owe” them, then it’s not a gift. It’s at least a bribe and in the extreme, extortion.

That’s the problem. Many will justify their behavior by saying they did the right thing while never admitting that they did it for self-serving reasons. This, in the end, is what makes us selfish and this is what kills great organizations: selfishness. 

Doing The Right Thing

Turning an organization around and rebuilding its culture is hard work. Once, someone has learned to survive and maybe has “gotten theirs” they are reluctant to give that up. It takes guts and leadership to step out in faith and embrace a whole new way to think about every action or interaction. To make it all about serving others first. I’ve been a part of organizations that have done it. It’s not easy but then again anything worthwhile is not meant to be easy.

This brings me back to what we’re experiencing today. We have a tremendous opportunity to push the reset button coming out of this pandemic to once and for all focus on serving others first. The world has changed, we’ve had to adapt, we’ve had to step out to find unique and creative ways to help each other get through. We have tremendous examples to use as frames of reference, for story-telling in our organizations. If there was ever a worldwide opportunity to embrace the Ultimate Success Principle once and for all, this is it!  

Paying The Price

What’s really special about our current collective challenge is that it has not been easy. That is the mark of serving others first. To do it and do it well means it has to cost us. There has to be a sacrifice made. When we are willing to set aside our own benefits in order to be of benefit to others that is what it means to selfless and that’s what we’re fighting for today. The opportunity and privilege to serve others first, to help others succeed first.

The Incredible Rewards

Thus the title for this article, “We’ll Never Know”. As a result of staying at home, masking up, and washing up, we’ll never know how many people we have helped. We’ll never know how many lives we’ve saved. We’ll never know how many people we kept from getting sick. Going forward, as we pour more and more good like this into serving others we’ll never know how many organizations we’ll put on the path to becoming great and we’ll never really come to understand the full meaning, and success, of what we’ve accomplished as we served others first!

Matthew 22:36-40

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

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