"Great opportunities to help others seldom come, but small ones surround us every day." ~ Sally Koch

Shoveling a snowy walkway for an elderly neighbor, opening the door for a stranger on crutches, donating money to a charity, or volunteering at a local shelter are just a few examples of service to others. Even smiling at a passerby on the street and allowing someone with fewer items to move ahead in the line at the grocery are small ways we serve others.

"Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you." ~ Mother Teresa

While service to those in need is important, so too is serving daily the people we love. Sometimes showing the same level of kindness and consideration we do for strangers to those we love is challenging or not even attempted.

Do we take a relationship for granted as a result of a certain comfort level?

Has nurturing and tending to the relationship slowly eroded over time?

Are long-standing grudges getting in the way of caring for the relationship?

Have we stopped speaking lovingly?

Love, support, kindness, compassion, empathy, understanding, and forgiveness are not to be reserved for charity and service to strangers; it should be showered on those we love, too.

Ask yourself: how have I served those I love today?

It will serve you well.


by Kelly Sajonia

When I was in high school, I took part in a zillion organized community service events. I served as the school's Habitat for Humanity vice-chair. I led a fundraising campaign for Adoption Option. I swept litter off the streets in low-income neighborhoods. I went on summer volunteer trips to rural Appalachia and rural Pennsylvania.

But I never felt like I was producing something meaningful. Sure, I'd pick up litter, but the next day there would be more. I'd pound nails into a house, but the underlying factors that caused a family to rely on charity were still present. I wanted to create sustainable change, the kind of change that persists independent of my time and effort.

In college I joined a group that studied the feasibility of powering my university with renewable energy. Through that project, I learned two things: First, for change to be sustainable, it MUST be economically efficient. Money drives decision-making. Second, the average person has never been taught about how to control his or her own financial destiny. Fewer people would fall on hard times and be forced to ask for help if they harnessed the power of savings and investments during the good times.

Today I teach people how to take control of their money. I write about financial planning, budgeting, investing and growing wealth.

The cynical see this as the pursuit of greed. "Money's not important," they say. Au contraire. Money is the only thing that separates the middle-class from the impoverished. And who wants to set themselves and their children on a path to poverty?

On the contrary, every time I get an email from a reader that says, "you've inspired me to max out my IRA," "you've helped me pay off my debt," or "you've taught me how to create a stream of passive income," I feel like I've made a sustainable change.

It's not service in the traditional sense of the word. I'm no longer taking mission trips to Appalachia. But service isn't confined to such a narrow definition. Anything you can do to help someone help themselves – whether its offering advice, guidance, education, mentoring, or even a smile – is a form of service.

In my view, service is also how you respond to the outside world. Turning the other cheek when someone wrongs you is a type of service. Being the bigger, more noble person is a form of service.

When I was young, I thought service was something you did on Sunday. Now I see that it's a 24/7 way of life.


by Paula Pant

College students sometimes give up their spring break to go on a service trip.

Boy scouts have to collect service hours to earn certain types of badges.

Lawbreakers must log a set number of community service hours in order to pay their debt to society.

Every year, thousands of brave men and women enlist in the military to serve their country.

According to Muhammad Ali, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”

Service is super important. The dictionary defines it as “an act of helpful activity.” But it seems that people have certain pre-conceived notions of what service looks like. Staffing soup kitchens, building homes for the poor, and raking leaves for an elderly widow are common mental snapshots. Sacrifice is a key element of how we think about service. Although serving others makes us feel good, "fun" is not usually a benefit that comes to mind.

But isn’t making someone smile or laugh also an act of helpful activity?

How about creating a memory for someone that they’ll remember ten years from now?

A few years back, on one of those early spring days when the sun is out and the thermometer rises ten degrees above freezing for the first time, I surprised my wife and best friend by kidnapping them. I blindfolded them, carefully guided them down the steps of our apartment building, and ordered Happy Meals from the drive-thru at McDonald’s, before settling at the zoo for an outdoor lunch. We ate our cheeseburgers near the lion enclosure, where a few baby cubs were frolicking. (I did have a moment of panic at McDonald’s, where I wondered for the first time how the person at the window might feel about a man driving up with two blindfolded women sitting in the back seat. Apparently, judging by her lack of alarm, this sort of thing happens regularly. At least at McDonald’s.)

It was a fun day. And one that we still reminisce about from time to time.

At the end of our lives, when we are on our deathbed with our closest friends and family gathered around us, the conversation usually centers on the good memories, the funny moments, and the adventures we shared with our partners in crime. It seems to me that making more of these moments with the people we love is perhaps the greatest act of helpful activity there is.

In this busy world, it takes a fair bit of effort and planning and sacrifice to create a memory that someone will actually remember a whole decade later. Which is why memories like those are rare. Life is fast and time flies, and although we have good intentions, the years — and the opportunities to create these memories — pass by all too quickly.

The greatest way to leave a legacy is through your service to others. Your service project this week — if you choose to accept it — is to create a memory with someone you care about that will mean a lot ten years from now.

I'd love to hear how it goes.

P.S. This idea is one of the 40 challenges featured in The Escape Plan, a guide specifically designed to help you annihilate the Adultitis in your life. You can learn more about it here.


by Jason Kotecki

Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least . ~ Goethe

I believe there are 3 essential variables that make up a happy and satisfying life: novelty, challenge and service. Pair those variables with the Pareto principle (also known as the 80/20 rule) and I think you have a recipe for success as well.

The Pareto principle states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. This principle was named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who observed that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. But enough people have observed this principle at work in other areas that it's worth considering its application to our lives in general.

I've seen this in my garden this summer, for example: 20% of my tomato plants are producing 80% of my fruit. It used to confuse me how one plant would be heavy with fruit while the others produced so little, but the Pareto Principle helps me understand it.

In his book The 4-Hour Work Week, Tim Ferriss explains how his business took off when he started applying the Pareto Principle. He looked over his balance sheets and saw that 80% of his sales came from 20% of his products. He also noticed that just a small percentage of problem clients were taking up the majority of his time.

Drawing on these insights, he refocused his energy on his most successful products. And-in one of the most memorable stories from the book-he "fired" his three most problematic clients, informing them that they could either order via fax-the most hassle-free method of ordering he had-or they could look elsewhere for his product. As a result, he cut his workload significantly while doubling the volume of his sales.

What I took away from Ferriss' exploration of the principle was its dual nature. Based on his experiences-and on my own-you have a choice: you can exert your energy in the direction that brings you the greatest rewards-often seemingly without any great effort on your part-or you can direct your energy where getting even the smallest amount of return seems like an uphill climb.

I shared this principle recently with one of my coaching clients. She is a brilliant entrepreneur and yet she often feels overwhelmed and frustrated. She has been spending the bulk of her time satisfying other people in ways that have little or nothing to do with what brings her satisfaction.

She still has something to show for her time and energy-her colleagues love her, and her clients see her as a sort of superhero fighting for their success-but these were not the rewards she was looking for when she started her business.

On the other hand, she could see areas where she did want to direct her energy. So she engaged volunteers to write newsletters and keep up with other social media. She hired an assistant to take care of aspects of the business that did not require her immediate attention, like responding to emails.

Delegating her responsibilities freed up time to do what she's really good at – being of service to others and developing new ideas – while still allowing her to do other things she loves – like preparing and enjoying meals with her partner, taking walks with her dogs and meeting friends for bike rides. And she is happier than she ever thought possible.

Most folks would agree that the majority of their time is not spent on their priorities or the aspects of their lives they find most gratifying, and that's why they can benefit from this principle. To apply it to your life you only have to do one thing – focus your attention on what matters most, the things you do well and what makes you happy.

Do you also feel the most satisfaction when you're being of service? And how will you find ways to give more?


by Stacey Curnow

Serving Generations

by Jen Slayden

My 85-year-old father recently sent me a fascinating book by Tom Brokaw titled The Greatest Generation. I was immediately taken by stories of those from the Great Depression and the Second World War; especially how his generation really did shape the world we live in today. The synopsis of the book states “this generation was […]

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