Dump the Thanksgiving speech.

IMG_0597Some people spend a lot of time coming up with the perfect Thanksgiving speech or post that expresses their “thankfulness” for this or that.  I think as leaders we shouldn’t fall into that trap.  Time to dump the Thanksgiving speech.

A meaningful way to show gratitude is to serve others, as opposed to giving them a speech prompted by a national holiday.  But service takes work, time and sacrifice, that some may not be ready to give.  So they believe “saying” the perfect thing will make them look good.  This is pretty self-serving.

So how do we flip that?  

What makes a self-serving person serve others?

I’ve got three steps to turn that question into a reality.

If I told you my life story in great detail, it wouldn’t make sense. From the type of person I am on the inside and some of my thought patterns, I should have punched a one way ticket to hell long ago. God saved me. It’s that simple. The only way to keep what you have is to give it away. I choose to show my gratitude through service, which has led to a deeper understanding of servant leadership.

But that’s my story…  I was brought to my knees long ago by nasty habits, culminating in addictions to all sorts of mind altering realities.  Not just chemically either.  I’ve had too much of pretty much everything, including good stuff like food, love, weightlifting and other things.  I took advantage of others and stole a lot of their emotions and time.  It was all about me.

I’m sure you’ve got your own story and can relate.

But, what about others?  It’s easy to recognize and judge others from the outside.  We know the patterns, we see the hidden motives and the gulf between words and actions.  We observe the living contradiction.  It’s all about them.

This leads to my thought for today.  

If you believe that servant leadership is the only real type of leadership, how do we lead selfish folks there?  As living proof, I’ve got an idea of what the path looks like.

Step one is recognition. – This can be self-realization or a realization brought about by an external factor.  A loved one’s plea, an unmanageable life circumstance or some earth shattering, “rock-bottom” moment.  Basically, if you want to help someone go from selfish to servant, they’ve got to see and recognize that they have been acting selfishly.  Sometimes, it’s too big for them to see.  A leader can broaden their vision, so they can get a view of the full picture.

Step two is providing value. – The selfish party must be open to the idea of servant leadership.  Give examples, explain what it looks like and set the expectation.  If you make servant leadership look sexy, it becomes sexy.  Let them see the value servant leadership has, through real life examples.  Jesus is the perfect place to start, for a model of servant leadership.

Step three is to live it.  Very simply, practice what you preach.  Nothing is worse than saying you are a servant leader, without following through.  Go get dirty.  Have a great Thanksgiving and find an opportunity to serve others with action, instead of lip service.  It’s the only way to gain influence and lead others.

How can people follow you, if you aren’t going anywhere?