Intuitively, we all know how important it is to us to contribute – to feel like we are in service to others and our world. In smaller or bigger ways, on a very human level, each of us has had a taste of what it feels like to give the gift that is ours to give and see the value we have created for another. That taste is often the taste of joy, love, surrender, passion, but most commonly, it is the taste of fulfilment.
When the word ‘service’ appears in the business world, however, it often has another meaning and another energy. If you are an entrepreneur or leader in your organisation, the word service becomes something you need to figure out by answering the two questions:
“Who is it that we are serving?”
“What is the value we are delivering to them?”
If you already have an idea of that or are in another position, you get busy delivering that ‘service’, whether to external clients or to colleagues within the organisation. For many, there is an objective feel to it, something that needs doing whether you like it or not. It acquires that mental vibe that is so prevalent in businesses today. And way too often that leads to a disconnect with the heart that is not only painful, but unsustainable. That is because the heart is still longing for the feeling of real contribution. It won’t let us settle and keep going without that for long, unless we really have no choice (and we always have a choice!).
When something’s missing…
I was one of those lucky ones that did have a choice and knew it. About 3 years ago I left a successful career in IT startups in search for something to do that would actually feel meaningful to my heart. I’ve simply had enough of trying over and over again to answer those two simple questions of ‘Who are we serving?” and “What value are we giving them?” and feeling that what came out of it was not only unsustainable, but felt hollow on the inside. Something was missing and I needed to find out what it was.
Over the last few years, slowly I have found that what was missing was not necessarily in opposition to answering the two questions above, which I believe can be very helpful. It was another dimension that when left unaddressed leaves those answers hanging up in the air, devoid of any meaning. It is the dimension of the heart. When as individuals and collective, we stay away from that dimension because it feels complicated or out of place in business environments, it creates suffering. A service that is created and delivered without heart can appear to be useful, but often feels mechanic, unclear, lacks real drive and is rarely fulfilling to anyone involved.
Bringing the heart back in our definition of service
A short while ago, I went for a meeting with some of my favourite teachers (which happen to be mushrooms – I am a big advocate for the legalisation and responsible use of sacred plant medicine). I asked them for help with the ‘ripening of my service’ and what follows below are the steps they took me through that I’d like to share with you.
1) Connect with the heart
Easily said, not always so easy to do. Even if you already have a strong connection with the heart, it is often that due to conditioning in certain contexts it will take a backseat and not reveal its wisdom. The question of service in professional terms is a great example of such a context, as it is so easy to get carried away by the wave of “reason” in the business world. The simplest way to go about connecting to the heart is to just sit and meditate with the intention to connecting to your service, from the heart space. Or you can use any other intentional practice you have that allows you to do that. In my meeting with the mushrooms, they literally had me sit with the question of service in my heart for 2 hours. Throughout that time, they didn’t give me an answer! I was just being with the question of my service, feeling the beauty, the purity, the depth of that longing to contribute to others, with an endless stream of tears rolling down my cheeks.
2) Open up to receive
When it comes to answering the question of what it is that you are in service to, remember – this is not about you defining who you are serving and what you should deliver to them! It is about waiting patiently until the heart is ready to share with you its truth. It might take hours, days, weeks, each journey is unique and is exactly what it needs to be. It is also not an answer that you receive once and that’s it – sometimes you might need to go back and get an ‘update’ on what you have known now for a few years. In my case, after about 2 hours of crying, a simple message came that was just as surprising as it was making perfect sense, as it landed in my consciousness like a feather. ‘I am in service to the sacredness of life’ is all that it said. A heart’s message is like that. It won’t give you the formula to your successful business or anything. But it will give you a quest that is just as mysterious as it is motivating to explore and that makes all the difference.
3) Live your hearts’ way of serving
Your heart’s definition of service is something you can strive for in any moment, whether you are working on your business, meeting a person on the street whose day you can influence positively, or seeing a bee drowning and becoming that hand of god in their world that decides it is not their time yet and taking them out. It is a way of being rather than a clear formula. It is something you will never reach – an ongoing quest that has no beginning and no end and you keep finding more and more fulfilment in as you find more and more ways to live according to it. One of those many ways will be expressed in your business or professional life. And it will make a world of difference to how it feels to do it, as you go about answering those questions of who you serve and how.
Why would you want to bring the heart back in your definition of service?
As we become aware of the need of bringing our hearts to what we do, our professional environments are changing. But they do so at a different pace and at different times. For some of us, it can be easy to go ahead and start doing more of what we do from the heart. For others, it can feel like an uphill struggle with many disappointments, as we come to face the old patriarchal way of doing things over and over again. It is especially in that second case that it is good to sense into why we might want to keep going despite the obstacles. Here are some reasons why you might want to do that, in addition to the sense of fulfilment and showing up in your human humility and longing to be of service:
When we define service in this wider way, in the way of the heart, we stop holding so tightly to our idea of a customer/receiver of our gifts and the way we are being of service. We realise we are serving something larger than ourselves and those customers/receivers. We and they become expressions of that something that is larger, but reaches out way beyond what we can comprehend. Just like each moment we are breathing we are in service to the plants nearby, we become aware that every step we take and every action we make to serve something bigger ripples out beyond our immediate awareness.
We also open up to opportunities that come from that space beyond our awareness that will come our way not because we set a goal or a target ideal customer, but because we are functioning from a higher level of consciousness, allowing for the unknown to give back its gifts to us, just as we give ours. In Peruvian culture, this is known as the principle of ayni, or reciprocity with spirit. There is an abundance to that, an infiniteness to the mindset that goes with this understanding, that creates an energetic flux that will feed our lives and allow us to feed the lives of others in beautiful unexpected and fulfilling ways. The answers to ‘who am I serving and how?’ can be part of it, but it goes way beyond those and we know it.
Get an invisible team
The moment we define service from the heart, we also acquire what Simon Sinek and Brene Brown call ‘an invisible team’. There will be people on a similar path, in service to something bigger than themselves that is similar to ours. Some of those people (and possibly other beings) will be close to us or familiar to us, others we will never even meet or hear about. Yet we will know they are there and that will make a world of difference! The weight of responsibility is not just on us – we are doing our part in a grand orchestra with many musicians. We can trust that as we do our best, as others do their best too, we are moving forward together.
Even what we might normally call ‘competition’ transforms as we transform our understanding of service. It’s no longer about serving the same kind of people, delivering a similar kind of value – we are serving something bigger than ourselves and it is so nice to know someone else is doing it too, that they can show us ways in which it can be done better, that we can push and poke and challenge one another to “move towards” that bigger something rather than “move against” one another.
Step into leadership
As we define service in this way, we also step in our leadership. If we define who we are serving and in what way we are serving them, we are good managers of ourselves and the people we are working with, because that gives us clarity of what the … we are doing here, for the time being. But if we are able to define why, what is this for, it’s a whole different game. If we think of any person we’ve found inspiring in our lives, if we dig deeper, we will find that they were doing it all in service to something bigger than themselves that they were in service to. They were building a team, visible and invisible, to serve that bigger purpose together. As we define what that is for ourselves, we join them. We join the larger invisible team of people who have went beyond serving themselves and others, to serving something bigger.
“How does your heart define what it is you are in service to?”
Those are some reasons why you might want to consider remembering your heart’s definition of service, which has always been there whether you knew it or not. If you have found it at some point in your life, wonderful, then hopefully this share has reminded you about it so you can reconnect to it with the fullness of your heart or allow it to update, if you feel it is needed. If you haven’t connected to it, then take this as an invitation to sit with the question and see what arises. Give it some time and space, ask yourself “How does my heart define what it is that I am in service to?”.
If you feel it is challenging for you to do on your own or wish to get some more support with next steps, I am always happy to hold that space for you with my coaching work, as well as with everything we do in the Connection Playground, which is very much about the heart, as it is about connection. Whether in visible or invisible ways, I am looking forward to exploring this with you and serving something bigger than ourselves together. It is high time that as humanity we began to do that more.
About The Paradise Vlog
I believe we already are in paradise, regardless of where we are and what’s going on in our lives. I believe life is a journey towards becoming aware of this and enjoying as much of it as we can in the limited amount of time we have here. The ‘The Paradise Vlog’ youtube channel is the space where I share my process of shedding patterns and beliefs that obstruct our view in order to replace them with presence, joy and wonder. It’s also my invitation to you – an invitation to connect and journey together in creative ways, as we help each other see through to the greatest expression of ourselves. I also love creating spaces for growth-oriented people to connect to their soul power and life purpose. I do that in the form of coaching, shamanic work and group sessions in the Connection Playground. Reach out if you feel curious to explore any of those with me.