We live in an interesting time, especially if you’re an entrepreneur. Our lives are becoming increasingly public, our attitudes more entitled, and our language more exaggerated.
You can’t spend more than two seconds on social media without someone talking about getting their entire LIFE or exclaiming, Yaaaaaaas when someone does or says something they agree with. And while most us aren’t actually LOL’ing or dying or gagging when we see something interesting, we still dole out these hyperbolic comments anyway.
Amid a sea of selfies, colorful language, and faux fabulous, well-documented lives, one thing gets lost—what we can do for others.
A few years ago, I interviewed entrepreneur Daymond John, who flipped a $40 investment into FUBU, a $6 billion clothing company that ruled pop culture in the 1990s. Today, the businessman doles out advice and dollars on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” and through his books and speaking tours.
While I probed his tips for running a successful business, Daymond John told me there was ONE question every entrepreneur should always ask:
Since our chat, that phrase has resonated with me on several levels.
It’s a question I ask myself before writing copy for clients or articles for publications. It’s also the guiding question I ask myself when I’m helping new writers navigate the beginning stages of this profession through my class. But, while asking, “How can I serve you?” helps entrepreneurs to think of new, innovate ways to meet their customers’ needs, it’s also a question I’ve begun to ponder in my personal life as well.
How can I serve you?
I’ll admit, I haven’t posed this exact question to others, but I make a conscious effort to approach each relationship–business and personal–with the other person in mind.
How can I help make their life better, easier, happier, or more productive?
How can I leave them in better shape than I found them?
How can my gifts and talents be used to help them better use their own?
Asking how we can better serve others can sometimes feel very foreign and counter to our achieving our own goals. After all, we live in the era of “getting mine” and grinding toward our own aims, while leaving others to fend for themselves.
But shifting the question from “what can you do for me?” to “what can I do for you?” will not only make you a more caring and compassionate human being, but it will also help you achieve your goals as well.
Here’s what I know for sure: successful people have allies. There are few people who can say that they made it from the bottom all the way to the top on their own. Along the way they had parents, teachers, friends, coworkers, mentors, and perhaps even customers, who helped them along the way.
And because folks are generally not in the business of helping assholes rise through the ranks (clearly, there are a few exceptions), in order to make it, and achieve success (however you define it) you’ll need to be humble, a hard worker, and a giver.
And giving starts with a single question: How can I serve you?
When was the last time you asked someone this and really meant it? Or when was the last time you approached every single person you met with that question in mind?
From now on, I challenge you to try it and pay attention to how much you end up getting in return because you decided to give to others first.