In 2012, HSBC released its Expat Explorer Survey to identify the world’s friendliest nation. Any guesses? Well, the answer is New Zealand. (Admittedly, my perspective was from the business world, having worked for a global investment company, but New Zealanders were always my favorite.)
See, the people of New Zealand take heart the secret formula for life:
U > Me
In a world of selfies, it’s not always easy to find it. That’s especially so in the teen years when we’re all a little self absorbed. It’s one reason I admire Rachel Scott so much. From my glimpse of her life in I’m Not Ashamed, I saw a shining example of one of my favorite leadership qualities: Other Centeredness.
Rachel always went out of her way to be a blessing to others. It was as though she had some compassion radar detector inside. Sometimes the need was obvious (e.g., a homeless man, socially ostracized students). But, in other cases, she was clearly Spirit-led, initiating conversations that would bring comfort to others (e.g., a student struggling with his dysfunctional home). I could imagine them thinking, “Is she a mind reader or something?”
Rachel actively sought opportunities to help, but, most importantly, she acted on them. She knew she’d be ridiculed, but it didn’t matter. Now, that’s impressive!
The principle of other-centeredness applies equally to our professional lives, even if it’s less commonly taught and practiced. Whether we’re business owners, department heads, managers, team leaders, coaches, teachers, or mentors, we will be placed in positions of influence and relationship. Who comes first?
I was blessed to work for a company whose owners, George and Jane Russell, put their employees first. Their reasoning? If they put their employees first, they would take care of their clients. It doesn’t always work the other way. During my tenure, we routinely won awards for “Best Place to Work.” And, we grew from a small investment firm of $1 billion to a global powerhouse managing $220 billion while applying this tenet! By empowering, encouraging, and appreciating people and setting them up for success, these incredible leaders embraced a positive leadership style—and the results were remarkable. Putting employees first even helps the bottom line! “Earth to CEOs!”
What would happen if we all tried living for a week in an “other-centered” universe, taking Rachel Scott’s example to heart? In this universe, we work in a cooperative spirit on the job (and in our families!) and are genuinely excited to see and help others succeed. And, we actively bring comfort and hope to others who could use it.
What would happen if we all lived to serve?
Dennis J. Trittin is the President and CEO of LifeSmart Publishing, LLC and the author of What I Wish I Knew at 18: Life Lessons for the Road Ahead; and Parenting for the Launch: Raising Teens to Succeed in the Real World. Learn more at http://www.dennistrittin.com.