Love All, Serve All – Just Do It - SAVVY INTRAPRENEUR

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Love All, Serve All – Just Do It

For many of us, service implies the work we do for our employers, customers, families, and friends. We serve to receive something back in turn – love, or money, or security, or favors, for examples. On an esoteric level, we may believe that our service will bring “good karma,” in the spirit of what goodness goes around surely comes back around in the end.

But what about giving service just for the sake of doing it, without any expectations or outcomes tied to it? Are we Me-focused Americans bereft of altruism? Maybe not. Maybe, but not all of the time.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 62.8 million Americans volunteered at least once for an organization between September 2009 and September 2010. (Interesting demographic profiles of volunteers in this report.) Why do we volunteer or otherwise serve others

I-to-I Volunteering offers several perspectives on why people volunteer, including:
· Because we’re passionate about a cause
· Because we want to “give back” to our communities to even the scales of haves v. have-nots
· Because it’s fun
· To feel a part of a community
· To be considerate of others’ circumstances
· To be rewarded or recognized for the service
· To get job skills and learn new things

The wrong reasons for serving others

For the first time, I volunteered to serve Thanksgiving dinners to the generally underserved, let’s say, down-and-out population in my community. To me, volunteering involves a certain amount of surrendering (a tough thing to do for those of us intrapreneurs who consider ourselves leaders and managers of people and projects), surrendering to those who best understand how such a service program operates.

“I’m doin’ this ‘cause my mom told me I had to.”

“I’m going to work the room to find out if anyone here has some connections for job leads.”

“I hope it’s not one of those situations where two people are doing the work, while the rest of us sit around and watch. There are always too many volunteers!”

“I’d rather be home watching the game, but my wife made me come.”

“We don’t get Thanksgiving at our house unless we do something like this.”

I began to wonder if I made the right decision to volunteer instead of have a lavishly prepared gourmet dinner at my friends’ home. However, once we took our positions and began the work, the naysayers subsided and the real reasons we were there became apparent.

Lessons learned

The experience opened my eyes to the true meaning of service, especially service for those who cannot serve themselves. What were the take-away lessons for me?
· No matter what station in life, we all deserve to be selflessly served
· A stark reminder of how fragile life can be – of how many people live on the fringe
· It’s important to serve without expectations of gratitude or recognition from the recipients of my service, i.e., giving with “no strings attached”

Sathya Sai Baba says it best: Love all, serve all.

Nike reinforces it: Just do it.

Karen Meek is a senior communications strategist. Follow her @karenmeektweets.

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