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Help! How to show up and be of service?

August 27, 2020

Today on my morning walk today I  saw a strange sight. An elderly man, bending every couple of minutes. As I approached, I saw he had a pickup stick in his hand and was picking up litter.  

I felt teary at this humble, almost invisible act of service.😢When the entire world seems to collapse around us, a senior citizen has found a way to be of service.

A leader recently described our current context as living through collective trauma. Even Former First Lady Michelle Obama says she’s suffering from a low-grade depression. In a recent episode on The Michelle Obama Podcast, she elaborated. ‘I’m waking up in the middle of the night because I’m worrying about something or there’s a heaviness.’

In this heaviness, how can we as leaders show up in meaningful ways for ourselves, our families, and workplaces?

Start with self-care – whatever that looks like for you. We cannot be of service as husks of our former selves. For me it is trying to ground daily in mediation, journaling and exercise. Spending time with my family and connecting with friends.

But I’m the first to admit that I’m uneven. Some days I can do all of this and other days not so much. I am learning to be more forgiving of myself, again an act of self-care. Michelle Obama shared ‘I try to make sure I get a workout in, although there have been periods throughout this quarantine, where I just have felt too low.’ So relatable.

Show up in service. In Maslow’s hierarchy, traditionally what drives us is self-actualisation. But recent thinking has placed service at the very top of this hierarchy.

I now grapple with being more nuanced with what service means. It is hard to let go of its action-focused trajectory. Even the simple act of staying home, wearing a mask, shift significantly when we see them both as acts of self-care and service.

Serving others (no matter how small or humble) allows us to show up, gives us purpose and a sense of hope. A client describes this, ‘Some days I get out of bed because my team is depending on me’.

I have also been seeking wisdom from the past to anchor me. I was re-reading Viktor Frankl’s, Man’s Search for Meaning. This sentence jumped out at me, ‘When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.’

So please take care of yourself, practice some self-care where possible and stay safe. If then you can show up and be of service, Bless.

As always please comment, I love hearing from you.

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