Selfless service is a foundational principle at Conscious Motivation. To serve selflessly is to dedicate our time and energy to bringing about positive impacts in the lives of others without expecting recognition or awards.
Selfless service is an act of love. The impulse to serve others originates from the heart and is in direct opposition to the ego’s desire to serve itself.
The fulfillment we receive from serving others gives us a firewall against the suffering of our ego. For example, I have mentored at-risk youth for the majority of my adult life. Making positive impacts on children’s lives has given me a deeper level of fulfillment than any professional triumph (whether promotions or bonuses). And, when the inevitable storms of life blew my direction, mentoring served as an anchor that enabled me to refocus my energy on the positive.
Living a Life of Service through Mentoring
My passion for mentoring began when I was in elementary school. I had a Big Brother in the Big Brother Big Sister program who was on the basketball team at the University of the South (Sewanee). Though I do not remember a great deal about what we did outside of the crazy fun annual Easter egg hunts at a fraternity house, I do remember how good it felt to have somebody—who was previously a stranger to me—care about my future and spend time with me.
As I grew older, I came to learn that many children lacked the role models I was so fortunate to have in my life. This inspired me to dedicate the time I had outside of the office to mentoring youth in my community.
My mentees came from a variety of backgrounds, but my experiences with each of them was equally rewarding. I learned to meet my mentees where they were in their lives and provide them with my time, guidance, and unconditional love. This enriched both my mentee and I.
Today, I will share one of my more challenging mentoring experiences.
My mentee was in the 7th grade, severely dyslexic, living with a single father on heroin, and cutting himself because he thought it would help him find peace. There was no way for me to prepare myself for this situation, so I responded with what would later become key Conscious Motivation ideals: I let him know that he mattered to me and that, if we focused on what we could do in the present moment, his future would be brighter.
In just six months, his self-confidence improved dramatically, he stopped cutting himself, and his final math grades improved by thirty points.
At that point in his life, I was able reach out to him with love to help him pull himself out of a dark place.
I would not be where I am today without the many people who have pulled me out of a paradigm of suffering and into a paradigm of love.
How to Identify Opportunities to Selflessly Serve
There are plenty of ways in which we can serve others.
Regardless of whether we would like to make a short-term or a long-term commitment, there are always groups and organizations in need of volunteers.
Short-term commitments generally only require that we engage in a single event or activity or engage in an event or activity for a short period of time. Here are a few examples of how we can serve others through a short-term commitment:
· Reading or tutoring at a local youth center
· Organizing food drives and feeding the homeless at a local food pantry/soup kitchen
· Volunteering at a charitable event like a race for a cause
· Sharing our passion with senior citizens at a local nursing home
· Building homes with Habitat for Humanity (attend as an individual or with a group)
Long-term commitments generally require a deeper level of engagement, but leave us with a strong sense of fulfillment. Here are ways we can serve others through a long-term commitment:
· Regularly mentoring a child through a community organization (i.e. Big Brother Big Sister)
· Volunteering at a local hospital’s pediatric ward (i.e. reading to children undergoing cancer treatments)
· Coaching a sports team at a local youth recreation center
· Volunteering at a women’s shelter with survivors of domestic violence
These are only a few examples, but we must listen to our hearts to identify which service activity is the best fit for our skills and passion.
Each of us has the power to pull another out of the dark and into the light. When we exercise this power and selflessly serve, we pull ourselves out of the dark and into the light too.