There was a time that my paradigm for success in business was to work hard and become as smart as you could and then you would be successful. One of the key things I’ve come to believe in the last ten years, however, is that we will be successful in proportion to our ability to serve the needs of others. For some, that will mean performing a service, perhaps a valuable service, and that’s as far as it goes. If you can do this, however, while making the person feel welcome and honored as an individual, you will find that you will be appreciated with more than just money. This isn’t necessarily for everyone. If your ego demands that you have the trappings of power (and I use the word ‘trappings’ deliberately), or if you don’t enjoy working with people, then it may be that service to others isn’t your calling. That is fine, because it takes so many kinds of people to make a society.
If, however, you find that there’s a harmony between your need to earn a living and your desire to be helpful to others, you can take to heart these words from Dale Carnegie in his book “How to Win Friends and Influence People”:
The world is full of people who are grabbing and self-seeking, so the rare individual who unselfishly tries to serve others has an enormous advantage. He has little competition. Owen D. Young, a noted lawyer and one of America’s great business leaders once said, “People who can put themselves in the place of other people, who can understand the workings of their minds need never worry about what the future has in store for them.” If you get just one thing out of this book, an increased tendency to think always in terms of other people’s point of view and see things from their angle, if you get just that one thing, it may easily prove to be one of the building blocks of your career. Looking at the other person’s point of view and arousing in him an eager want for something is not to be construed as manipulating that person so he will only do something that is for your benefit and his detriment. Each party should gain from the negotiation.
The business world is littered with smart under-achievers. Those who can wring everything out of their ability to serve others not only will always make a good living, but will engender great appreciation along the way.