There are a lot of ways, and at a lot of levels, you can interpret the principle of serving others. The essence of entrepreneurship is finding and then fulfilling a need for which others willingly pay you. When set in the context of service, you define a moral baseline, that through your products or services, you produce good. You help others to become happy, you “yield fruit.” (Sure, there’s a lot of money that can be made catering to people’s base appetites, but that’s not in keeping with our ethical standards.)
In the context of generating wealth, you earn by your calling, find meaning and purpose in the work you do. I’m not suggesting you follow your passion. Often our ‘passion’ is misdirected and self-serving, whereby we only really consider how much fun or benefit we ourselves derive from it. When the fun part is over, too often we give up, because it doesn’t live up to the daydreams we once envisioned. Rather, this is about matching the talents, capacities, and inclinations you hold, with the needs of the environment around you. Job ads are the environment getting really explicit about what needs doing and who is willing to pay. But looking with discernment at what individuals are asking for and what they need, a form of reading reality, can also direct you into profitable lines of service. Thus, have a trade, craft, profession, or art whereby you earn your living and you will be contributing to the welfare and prosperity of the whole. The more conscious you are about carrying this out, with these intended outcomes, the sooner we’ll see desirable transformation in society.
And then there’s the more typical understanding of service: volunteering. This is when we give of our time (considerably the most important resource we have, since it can never be earned back), to help contribute to the well-being of the community. Ideally, we should see our service in a holistic way, some of which we get paid for, some of which we don’t, but overall, contributing to the common weal. In many ways, they may be integrated and learning from one impacts your ability to carry out the other.
What we don’t want is to have a day job that we feel isn’t service, and then only once in a while do a day-of-service that our company sponsors. I once volunteered to help build a playground and a bunch of folks from a sponsoring insurance agency were also there. When asked what work I did, I mentioned preventing evictions in the neighborhood where the playground was being located. The woman replied “Oh, that’s God’s work”. Sure, preventing evictions is tough and helps folks, but so does providing insurance payouts when we consider how many people have NOT become destitute upon experiencing a personal or natural disaster. It may be as simple as mentally reframing what you do to see how you can be of service. Either way, being of service can do wonders to improve your mental health. Helping others to become happy gets you out of your own head and paradoxically, helps you become happy in return.
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