When the subject of ‘service’ is brought up, an enquirer is usually seeking some kind of commitment from another party about what they do for others, and the ‘others’ they refer to are those outside the respondent’s immediate family or social circle.

“What charities do you donate to?” they ask. “What charitable works do you carry out for no recompense?” “Who benefits from what you do for no reward?” To me, this is a misunderstanding or, perhaps more accurately, an overly narrow interpretation of the word ‘service’.

Stephen Covey often quoted Dag Hammarskjöld, former UN Secretary, who said, “It is more noble to give yourself completely to one individual than to labour diligently for the salvation of the masses.”

That says, to me, that dedicating oneself to the benefit of even only one other person is as valuable a service as any other. Of course those who serve others in a wider sense are worthy of praise, for without them we would all be worse off. But at the same time I believe that serving one’s own family, spouse, children, client, customer or immediate teammate is as valuable and noble a service as that given to a wider field.

One of the reasons I believe this is because those examples lie firmly within your Circle of Influence, the Circle within which you find all those things you have an ability to control. Not ‘control’ in the sense of ‘do with them what you see fit’, but control in the sense that you have the ability to wholly decide how, when and why you can act in respect of that service. And that having taken that control, doing so to that other’s best benefit. Outside influences are less of a concern when you are in the Circle of Influence. You do not need others to help – desirable and advantageous as it is if they can help, they are not essential.

And let’s face it, if you don’t seem to worry about family and friends, why should anyone else?

It is often written that the person we most remember as we age is the teacher who took extra care with our education, or the team-mate at work who taught us something valuable. They probably didn’t know that they were providing a service. In both situations they were being paid to do what they were doing, weren’t they? In neither case did they (probably) earn an OBE or other honour. But we remember them, and we do so fondly. And we will always remember family.*

The point I am trying to make is that when you consider the expression ‘service to others’, then don’t dismiss the ‘service to your own’ as less charitable than ‘service to others’. You have the opinion of a celebrated UN Secretary-General on your side when you ‘only’ serve your loved ones.

*(And we forget those who get honours for ‘services to their profession’ when it is notable that they were more than adequately, even generously paid for those ‘services’ – ever noticed how the Queen’s Police Medal tends to go to senior officers and rarely to the service providers at the front line, who serve just as long in more dangerous circumstances than Chief officers? Rant over.)

Weekly Challenge

How and when will you serve a family member this week? Decide to do something you’ve forgotten to do in the past.

Blog Part

I was disappointed this week with my weight loss. Not that I didn’t lose any, I lost 2lbs, but because another quarter pound and I would’ve been in the 13st bracket. On the exercise front I can now run 5 miles in one go, and in 45 minutes, so both goals are on target. And the book is getting closer to completion, too.

Please consider whether you would like to ‘do what I did’ in terms of fitness and weight loss, because making excuses for being grossly overweight is rationalising (rational-lies), and the expression ‘cheerfully fat’ is NOT really a compliment. I’ve seen ‘cheerfully fat’ people crying n the corner. It’s hard to watch.