Why service and giving is the cornerstone of a successful career (and life)
Being speechless is something that rarely happens to me as a professional speaker. Imagine my surprise when I was both speechless and very moved a couple of months ago at the Asia Professional Speakers Convention 2019. During the Gala Dinner I was honoured with the Spirit of Service Award by the Asia Professional Speakers Singapore (APSS).
As you’ll see in the photo, I was dressed as a queen for the night, because the theme was “Freddie Fabulous.” I can honestly say, I felt like a queen too! Definitely an awesome night, and a little overwhelming too.
In my thank you speech, I said I don’t need awards for serving my community. I have always believed in service, and I’ve never offered it for any other reason than I truly believe in APSS and the good it is doing for so many people, including me. I have definitely received far more than I’ve given from the incredible community I’ve met around the world during my work as a professional speaker and through the Global Speakers Federation.
It is a wonderful group and if speaking is on your agenda – whether as a professional speaker or for work – please, do check out your local chapter. You’ll make a lot of new friends too.
Always serve your community
I have always served. I was executive director, then chairman of the Asia Content Marketing Association (ACMA) before handing the reins over to Simon Kearney – who is doing an amazing job. ACMA is run by committed content passionistas, who are driven to create a higher-level content marketing conversation in the region. How could I not have been actively involved in this community?
If you’re in content or content marketing, get stuck into ACMA! Be part of your industry and drive it from a heart for service. That’s the winning strategy, especially for the younger professionals. The network you’ll build is phenomenal.
Before ACMA, I always volunteered for extra activities at the companies I worked for. Heck, I got into PR by creating and then doing PR for the Australian Army Band Melbourne back in 1992. Even before that, I was on committees for the brass bands I was part of in Australia as a young teenager. My sister, Phillipa Edwards, is still doing it!
Service seems to run in my family’s blood. I can’t remember us not getting stuck in. Not going the extra mile – for our communities, friends, or anyone who really needed it. Why wouldn’t we? It’s so rewarding, on too many levels to count.
But I need to focus on myself
Relationships are THE KEY to future success and with talks of recession in the wind – and we will hit a recession, which is predicted to be far worse than any we’ve seen in recent decades – this is definitely the time to hunker down and have a service mindset.
But it’s not a normal mindset I’ve discovered. I mentor a lot of professionals and peers around the world, and one topic that keeps coming through is this idea that if you get distracted by service, it will derail your personal ambitions. As a result, many of the professionals I speak with don’t want to go the extra mile for their organisation or the associations they are part of.
I just don’t understand this way of thinking at all.
If you serve, you have a community that will help you when you need it.
If you serve, you build more powerful and meaningful relationships with people that matter to your career.
If you serve, you understand the pulse of an organisation or association, which means you become a more valuable member.
If you serve, you grow and flourish in ways you can’t even imagine right now.
Part of my message, as The Digital Conversationalist, when speaking about Social Leadership, is to give as much as you can to your community, to help them succeed, and by default, you succeed too.
When I started on social media over a decade ago, the Giving Economy came naturally to me and I didn’t do it for any return. I did it, because it is the core of who I am and what I want to be in the world. I’m a cheerleader for the best of humanity. That’s who I am.
And so recently, my husband suggested perhaps it’s time to be a little more selfish with my time… But I’m like “darls, the essence of what I do, the essence of my being, is to give. It might take me longer to be successful, but I’d rather take longer and not sacrifice who I am to get there.”
He TOTALLY understands that, but he also sees the burden of giving. I have long since lost the ability to stay on top of all communication coming my way. That’s the cost of being The Digital Conversationalist. I get slammed. So, nag me if you need me, please!
But I will continue to do it, because I really do want to make the world a better place and I believe I can – in my own small way. And I do that by attempting to inspire people who have a great message to share, to get out there and share it with the world.
A message to solve the environment crisis.
A message to solve the on-going challenge of equality.
A message driving for diversity and it’s benefits.
A message to raise awareness around human slavery and what we can do to solve it.
A message that matters. That can contribute to greater change.
I believe the more positive messengers we have today – be it digitally or physically – the better chance we have of pushing back the tide of fear, hatred and negativity that seems to be swirling around us all.
We must push this dark wave back. If we don’t, we have no hope of collectively facing up to the real issues the world faces right now, and that is transforming to a Mother Earth Economy. This is an economy requiring a BIG amount of change and quickly.
But what if they don’t give back?
Another question I’m often asked is: how do you deal with the disappointment of people letting you down?
When you give, you have to accept that you will be regularly let down. Sometimes it’s just people taking too much and not being respectful of your time. Other’s take your intellectual property, get angry if you don’t give them more, and many just take and never even say thank you or acknowledge your existence.
For me, I let them go. I don’t cut them out. I don’t speak badly about them. They have shown me who they are, and I believe them. And then I move forward.
You see, if you become bitter about giving, based on the actions of people who are not gracious about accepting your gift, then you sacrifice a beautiful part of yourself. And that is a sacrifice I urge you to never make.
Because if you truly want to be of service and to be a giver, you must continue to be that person despite the takers. I know it hurts. I know it’s painful. But gently send them on their way and keep going. Don’t hate. Let go of any anger. Be at peace and move forward. Keep giving. Keep serving.
Over time, the magic really starts to happen, because you attract more and more like-minded people to you, who relish in the essence of being givers, and when you have a huge community like that around you, wow, life is good.
And then the people who have been taught that life is about self, about being selfish, about me-first… well they start to see there’s another way. A nicer way, and they start to shift a little bit too. That’s how real change happens. In ever increasing ripples. So be the change you want, even when many are trying to derail you. Eventually, if you don’t slip, they’ll see it too!! And we get to add more ripples of kindness.
You see how that all works, right? That’s why you don’t hate or cut them out. So many people have never been taught and have never seen that there is another way. Equally, some are simply too hurt from being let down in a society that has been going in the wrong direction for a very long time.
We dismiss each other too easily. We give up on people too easily. It’s always better if you can show them another way. I reckon anyway. We need more compassion in the world!!
Be of service. Join the Giving Economy
My friends, if you want to excel and build an amazing future for yourself and your family, do it with service and giving at the core.
Yes, it might take you longer, but what you build will be far more meaningful, powerful, and substantial, than if you approach life with an “each to their own” mentality.
We’ve had enough of that right?
Join your industry association. Join a local chamber of commerce. Join an environmental activist group, or one that is helping people who are rescued from slavery, or an educational community helping the poor, or any other issue you care about.
And when you join, get stuck in. Don’t ask what they can give to you, give to them first – freely and openly. Turn up at the events. Support them on social media by engaging in the content they share, promoting their events and activities, etc… Join the organizing committee. Be an active participator who sits at the front of the room.
If you do this, you will watch your world transform, I promise. I urge you to operate from your heart, not from a mindset of What’s In It For Me? Heart is where a grand life resides.
That’s why I serve. That’s why I’ve always served. Yes, it wears me out sometimes, but I wouldn’t change a thing.
I can wholeheartedly recommend it as an approach if you want to build a fantastic career and life – one that makes your heart sing. Because there’s no point having a big bank balance if your hearts’ not singing – surely?
Finally, thank you APSS for honouring me with The Spirit of Service Award. It means the world to me and in particular, thank you to Fredrik Haren, Cathy Johnson, Jerome Joseph and the whole executive committee from 2018/19 for deciding I was worthy. You guys rock.
So, what do you think? Are you already doing it and reaping the many rewards? Or is this a new insight for you? Perhaps you disagree?
Cheers, from the woman who willingly gives too much
Are you a Social CEO?
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I believe it’s time for all of us to embrace our voice and embrace the future. We do this by working and living ‘out loud’ with meaning, intention, integrity and by being true to ourselves. If you own your voice, you will own your future.
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