Invisible Servant

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raise your hand and volunteerWhen you volunteer to serve on a committee, commission or in the community, you tacitly surrender your own opinions, your ego and your survival of the fittest instincts. You may retain your education, life experience and perspective—all of which you must release if others on the committee, commission or in the community think your contribution less useful than sawdust.

Some people do this well; others cannot do it at all and fight tooth-and-nail (often loudly) to make their voices heard. (One wonders where in their lives they feel so unheard.)

I've gotten better at letting go. When I was less mature, I could be so sure my way was the best way (sometimes it was) that I would defend and promote it relentlessly. OK, no one likes anybody or anything that is relentless, unless it is lots of money coming in or decadent zero-calorie food!

Here are some reasons to let go:

  • Share the responsibility! Don't you have a lot of other things you wish you could be doing – or you should be doing – besides this little corner of a project many people are participating in?
  • Be a leader by stepping back and ensuring others get the opportunity to lead.
  • Commit to doing it badly. If you do not complete this project/committee/whatever imperfectly, you will not be able to do it at all. Because no one is perfect (though you may come closer than those other people on the committee—or so you think!).

Servanthood, like philanthropy, contributes best when invisible…unless you want to make sure you and your foundation's name gets scattered amongst many other not-for-profit organizations!

The invisible servant is like an awesome office or industry manager. That is the person who supports his or her team members in succeeding magnificently – and imperfectly, remember imperfectly! – in accomplishing the thing the invisible servant is responsible for.

Tips for the Invisible Servant

  • seek to be edited, overrun, voted down on your suggestions/creations
  • praise the people who replace your notions with ideas of someone else, because – based on your starting point – they are probably spot on
  • run with these new ideas (which replaced yours) as if they were even better than your ideas (they probably are!)

If this plan does not work, start over with new ideas and, please, run through the same process (because you're a rock star!).

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