Selflessness

The question of selflessness was raised in response to a prior post. The answer that I have chosen follows the path of servant-leadership.

“The servant-leader is servant first. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve. Then conscious change brings one to aspire to lead. The best test is: do those served grow as persons; do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?” Robert K. Greenleaf, The Servant Leader, 1970

That quote by Greenleaf nearly defines the role of a coach. The goal of a coach is to enable, encourage, acknowledge and nurture change in others. The coach serves others as they develop themselves. This is true of a leader as well and the two roles, coach and leader, are distinguished only by the role. A leader is often viewed as the person in front of the crowd. The coach could be viewed as a member of the crowd that helps the leader grow in becoming a better servant. The view is that from leader the next logical step is coach, helping others become more of who they are.

The servant-coach fits this description, “Servant Leadership deals with the reality of power in everyday life – its legitimacy, the ethical restraints upon it and the beneficial results that can be attained through the appropriate use of power.” New York Times (October 2, 1990)

Being selfless is defined as having, exhibiting, or motivated by no concern for oneself; unselfish (thefreedictionary.com). A servant leader, a coach in their ultimate role is an act of selflessness. Attaining the wisdom and taming the ego are two important traits that must be continually developed to be good at leadership or at coaching.

When we are prepared to ask of ourselves, “I am ready to seek a future different from the past.” we are stepping into the realm of personal and deep change. Those who are ready to seek a future that is radically different than the past may want to have a coach assist them in that transition. What does the future look like? How will I be prepared to face the new future I am creating?

Can you answer with authenticity the question, “Do I love what I see inside of me?”, if not then there is room for growth, change and new possibilities.

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2 responses to “Selflessness

  1. All human activity, in my opinion, is to give the doer satisfaction. In other words, I would not do anything that will not give me a happy me. So, when I become a servant, I will do so only if I am getting a happy me in the bargain. Otherwise, it does not work.

    This is why I say that there is no selfless activity and no altruism as it is generally understood.

  2. Does it take knowing before the service that the “happy me” will obtain its desires? Are we feeding the ego with service? Is it possible to elevate to a higher plane of thought/experience and in doing so causing a fundamental shift in our “needs” to occur?

    I think my question is, “what comes first?”, what is the primary intention – to serve self or to serve others? We might anticipate that serving is going to result in a satisfied ego and in most cases it will and in some cases it won’t. If it doesn’t do we stop serving because it doesn’t always satisfy?

    I know in many instances it is about “WIIFM – what’s in it for me” … the shift I believe can be, “WIIFO, what’s in it for others”, perhaps not for everyone but some.

    I think people do volunteer to feed the self – so I’m not in disagreement with the thesis.

    Service is an act of the heart – serving with love and as a result of giving we receive. What we receive may be greater than what we gave. It draws back to the original question – is it selfless? I think it goes back to primary intention … is the primary intention self first or others first?

    The success of love is in the loving – it is not in the result of loving. Of course it is natural in love to want the best for the other person, but whether it turns out that way or not does not determine the value of what we have done.
    Mother Teresa

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