I once thought that my main goal was to be as successful as possible, no matter what. Time and experience have taught me how foolish that was. Now I believe our lives are successful when we are serving and adding value to others.
This is a strong statement, and let me tell you, it is completely the opposite of my natural inclination. I am naturally selfish and my default is to make sure my needs are covered first but I have found that by helping others become a better version of themselves, it helps me do the same. Here are a couple of ways to help you value others and put others first.
It may sound counter-intuitive but one of the first steps for me was to start to value myself. Not in a self-important way but in a healthy way. How we look at ourselves helps us to have a better understanding of how we see others. Do you value yourself? Do you respect yourself? Do you value your own time? The more you can accept yourself, the more you can accept other people for the way they are. When you set an appointment do you honestly think you will get there on time? If you are the one setting the appointment and you know you can’t get there on time, you don’t value your time. And if you don’t value your time, how are you going to value other people’s time?
In order to add value to other people, I need to value other people. This sounds very obvious, but it bears repeating. We all mess up from time-to-time. When that happens to you or to others around you, show some grace and avoid the urge to dole out what others may or may not deserve.
The other day I was completely cut off while driving. It was pretty bad but no one got hurt. The other guy messed up and he knew it. It happens. At the next stop light I pulled up beside him and you could tell he felt bad as he wouldn’t look at me and just kept his eyes forward. This made me feel sad. I’ve been in his shoes and he knows it, yet he was probably thinking I was going to pull up next to him and give him a piece of my mind. In that instance, I was very willing to give that guy some grace, to just wave at him and show him I wasn’t upset. This is but a small example. Value other people like you would want them to value you.
Who has valued you in your life? And how much does that person mean to you? I read something the other day that drove this point home. Nothing guarantees a fight in a bar, like talking trash about somebody’s mother. That’s because, for most people, their mother is the one person that valued them above all others, and when you disrespect the person that valued them the most, them’s fightin’ words! Who is the person in your life that values you the most? Now how can you show that person how much you value them?
In order to serve people and value others to the best of your ability, you must take a minute to figure out what your audience needs and values, be it personal or professional. You can’t make the mistake of substituting what you value for what they value. You will rarely be right. If they really need and value something and you present them with the opposite, you’ve missed the mark.
We see this a lot with people in struggling marriages. One spouse can have a laundry list of things they have done to show the other spouse they value them but none of it matters if those things on the list are not important to the receiving spouse. So take the time to be aware of what other people value.
Know that this is a long road and you can always become better at making others and yourself more valuable. It takes practice, but the more you do it, the better you get at it and the more people you impact!