Living for Others
I read a story some time ago about 25 people in a training session. The facilitator started the session drawing the attention of the participants to a glass room filled with balls. He said to them; “There are 25 balls in that room with each participant’s name written on them. Now, every one of you is to go and get the ball with their respective names on it. You all have 30 minutes to go in, pick a ball and return here with the ball that has your name on it.” Immediately the facilitator started the timer, the participants rushed to the glass room, with everyone trying to get in at the same time. After the initial struggle to enter the room, they kept bumping into each other to get a ball with their respective names on it – dropping any ball they had picked which had another person’s name. At the end of 30-minutes, no participant succeeded in picking his/her ball.
Then, the facilitator said they will take the exercise again. This time, each participant will go in one after the other to pick any ball and hand it over to the person whose name was on it. Interestingly, everyone had their respective balls and were back in the training room within the stipulated 30 minutes.
Then the trainer said to them; “This is a representation of the real world. When you live your life chasing your own “ball” – your career, personal well being and so on you tend towards living a less optimized life. But, when your goal is to add value to others, you make it possible to attain your life goals and live a truly fulfilled life.”
This story aligns with the statement by Albert Einstein: “Try not to become a man of success. Rather become a man of value.” A value-adding life is a deliberate one, committed to making others better. It is all about planting seeds into the lives of people around us. When you focus on adding value to people, it has a double-barrel effect. You succeed financially and also get the satisfaction of a fulfilled life.
Like the story you read above, when we are striving solely for success, the focus is on ourselves. But when we strive to be of value, our focus starts to accommodate other people. True success is not just about building your reputation, it is really about giving your best to change someone’s life without holding back.
You might have read about great men like Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela or Chief Obafemi Awolowo whose lives and works are still impacting people today. The interesting thing is you can start adding value from where you are – you don’t have to wait! Here are 3 principles to keep in mind as you determine to live a value-adding life;
- Identify Your Niche
The starting point of living a value-adding life is recognising your unique space. You cannot do everything, so pick an area of interest – whether it is education, entertainment, fashion, enterprise development or philanthropy. Whatever you are passionate about, focus on it, develop and channel it into ventures and activities aimed at investing in the lives of people.
- Be People Focused
American author Jon Gordon once said; “You are not a true success unless you are helping others to be successful.” We must always remember that the true value of our lives is in the investments we have made in other people. So, you must be people-oriented. Living a value-adding life is about making another person better, solving problems for others. Know that your life is too valuable to be about you alone, a truly value-adding life lives for others.
- Be Patient
Adding value is long term. It takes years and even decades to get the rewards of investment in people. I know we live in a “quick returns” generation however, true value is built over time. So, you’ll need to be patient and consistent for months, years and even decades. Remember, you are making an investment, not just for now, but for posterity.
So think about it – What one thing can you do to add value to your environment?
Remember, You Have Only One Life to Live, MAKE IT COUNT!