Seek to Serve: Improving Yourself by Helping Others

boy helping another boy up a mountain

I love connecting people to resources, whether those resources are other people, information, or places. And whereas that looks helpful, the truth is, it could be seen as a pretty selfish thing to do. I help others because helping others makes me feel good. And we all like to feel good, don’t we? And making me feel good is not the only advantage of helping others. It turns out that it helps people remember who I am—and that’s pretty good for business.

I’ve met many people in my 36 years. Wonderful people, helpful people, people who are truly interested in helping others succeed. And I’ve also met people who will do anything to ensure they themselves are successful—including throwing others under the metaphorical bus to get ahead.

And in my experience, those people who’ll do anything to get ahead—including hurting others—get ahead in business, all right. But eventually, it all comes crashing down. They might be making a tonne of money, but they slowly lose friends, and end up alone and miserable. Money doesn’t bring happiness—though it sure makes life easier sometimes.

Seek to serve: improving yourself by helping others, www.marianamcdougall.com, several hands holding each other in background

I may not be rich in material goods, but collecting material stuff is not what I want out of life. I have what I need to live a good life: water, shelter, food, and friends and family that I enjoy spending time with—both in person and online. And to me, personally, that’s what life is all about: friends, family, and spending time with the people who bring you joy.

A long time ago, I adopted a “seek to serve” mentality. I’m always thinking about how I could help others, though I’ll be honest, on days when I’m having a lot of pain, that’s hard. And sometimes, it’s OK to “take a day off” from being super nice. I’m not mean to people when I’m having flare-ups, but I make sure I’m taking time away from people when I need to concentrate on self-care. But on any other day, I do what I need to do to take care of myself, while also looking to help others. 

The “seek to serve” mentality has served me well over the years. I use this mantra because it makes me feel good, but the side effect is that people remember me. And that’s how I get most of my business through word-of-mouth. After seeing me answer questions in many Facebook groups for writers, or after witnessing me connect people with useful resources, these same people remember me when a client is looking for work that they’re not experts in, but that they know I could do well. This is how one of my largest clients “landed on my lap:” a referral from an online friend who’s seen me help others online.

So if you want to grow your business, remember this: put helping others first, and the clients will follow. You still have to do your marketing, of course. But you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how helping others can also help you succeed. Here’s a quick recap of how the Seek to Serve lifeview works:

1. Be genuinely interested in others.

Gecko looking straight into camera

 

Take interest in what other people are doing, in what their business is about, and in what their interests are. Because when we are “aware of what others are doing, applaud their efforts, acknowledge their successes, and encourage them in their pursuits… [and] we all help one another, everybody wins” (Jim Stovall).

2. Truly listen.

Two women talking, Photo by Trung Thanh on Unsplash

Study good active listening skills and practice them daily. Listen to what others are saying, don’t interrupt, truly take in information, and think about how you could help them based on that information.

3. Always be thinking about how you can help people.

two older women talking and laughing on a bench, Photo by Dario Valenzuela on Unsplash

 

As you truly listen to others, always be thinking about how you could help them with resources you know about, be those resources people, information, or places. Tell people about things that could help them in their business: not unsolicited advice about how to do things, but things they may be interested in researching or checking out. This actually provides people with useful tips, without making you seem like a know-it-all or a bossy person.

4. Wait for those referrals (don’t ask for them—yet).

man sitting at airport looking at plane taking off, Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

 

I rarely ask for referrals, yet I frequently get them. I believe this happens because people tend to remember those who help them, and subconsciously, at least, they want to help them, too. Again, I don’t help people just to get referrals. I truly take joy in connecting people with resources, because seeing others succeed makes me happy. 

So, remember: seek to serve, and you’ll see success.

How do you seek to serve?

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