Ask not what your company can do for you . . .
On January 20, 1961, John F. Kennedy, in his landmark inaugural address, challenged the American people with the now famous quote, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” You can read the entire speech here
It became a mantra that marked what was to become the beginning of a new era in the United States; one of prosperity and great social change.
Kennedy must have known that this statement would challenge people and have a positive result. And that it did.
In the decade that followed, we landed a man on the moon, businesses began a period of massive innovation and growth and the nation began to thrive. Great social change took place, righting many wrongs. People in general stepped up to his challenge of building a better nation for everyone. Life in the early and mid sixties was pretty good in the U.S.
Flash forward to today with our current epidemic of unhappiness in the workplace, a condition that according to 2013 Gallup poll, is costing our economy almost half a trillion dollars a year in lost productivity.
Since the release of “happy@work – 60 Simple Steps to Stay Engaged and Be Successful,” I’ve been immersed in employee engagement issues as we are offering our “happy@work” workshops and coaching to help companies increase employee happiness and engagement. Study after study has shown this to result in increased productivity and revenue.
This has become an important issue for me personally, for obvious reasons.
If you stop and think about the figure above, you’ll soon realize that there is no way we can compete in a global economy with this low level of employee performance.
If we hope to continue, for future generations, the quality of life we’ve come to expect in the United States this must change. And it must change now. While it is important for companies to invest in the growth and development of their employees, engagement is a two way street.
Perhaps we all need to ask a better question like, “What can I do for my company?”
When Kennedy spoke his powerful words it shifted people’s focus 180 degrees, from “What can I get?” to “What can I give?”
That was the game changer
When we approach life with a giving attitude we invoke the “Law of Reciprocity” which essentially teaches us that you cannot give without receiving. The universe is always in a state of balance.
Whatever you give out will come back, multiplied. This is one of the “secrets” to success.
If you want more love, give more love. Be more loving. If you want more money look for ways in which you can serve your company and customers.
If you want more time, give of your time. This is why people say, “If you want something done give it to a busy person.” We instinctively know that, somehow, busy people get more done. This is, perhaps, because they give freely of their time, they seem to have more of it.
At work people ask, “How can I get a raise?” Wrong question.
The way to get that raise and become more successful is to instead ask, “How can I add more value to my company?”
In the case of a business owner you might ask, “How can I be of more value to my clients?” Or “How can I add more value to the community I serve?”
My friend and colleague Don Lafferty (pictured at right), a recognized social media authority, regularly gives of his time to share ideas with a local group of us who meet to discuss social media strategies. Giving back is not uncommon among successful people.
At home, a husband might ask his wife, “What can I do to help you?”
I’m willing to go out on a limb here and say that if you were to do this with whomever you live with, you would experience a warm and welcoming response.
Think about the last time someone did something nice for you. How did you feel? Didn’t you, almost immediately, want to do something nice for them in return?
Of course you did. It is our natural response to want to reciprocate the kindness.
It’s a simple formula, if you want more, give more.
If you want to open to your full potential you may want to begin your day by asking, “Where may I serve today?” You can do this before you even get out of bed.
Simply ask God, the Universe, Source Energy or whatever name you give to the source of life, how you may be of service. Then just lie there for a minute or two and listen quietly for inspiration.
You may receive an idea immediately or something may come up during your day. As you learn to become quiet and listen for guidance, you’ll begin to sense it more and more in your life.
You may receive it as an impulse to take a particular action or call someone. You may meet the person who can help with something you’re working on or be invited to an event where you learn of a business opportunity.
At work you might ask yourself an empowering question like, “How can I do my work today in such a way as to add more value to my company?”
Please come back and comment here to let us know what happened.