How May I Serve?

Everyone is doing their best here. Help them succeed, and you’ll succeed, too. Take care of others, and they’d want to take care of you.


The above was part of the guidance I received when I meditated on Sunday morning. Following a powerful 4-question visioning process (I’ve written about before), I quieted my mind, and asked for the highest vision for me in this coming week. The above message is clear, direct and simple, and yet so easy to forget in the current “What’s in it for me” times in which we live. It’s a reminder that we never truly need to worry about ourselves when we focus on helping and serving others.

Help Others Succeed

I really appreciate this timely reminder from my inner wisdom. Being a leader isn’t so much about what results I can deliver personally—although individual-level contributions are important and expected of the position I hold. Rather, being a leader entails providing behind-the-scenes support to enable others to shine and deliver something great. That support could be direct, such as providing mentoring or collaboration on a specific project or deliverable, or it could be indirect, such as by taking something off others’ plate and/or protecting time and space for them to concentrate on the project/deliverable. And by “others,” they could be anyone in the organizational hierarchy, not just those reporting to me.

Take Care of Others

The point from my meditation about taking care of others instantly resonated with the caregiver in me. Even without getting anything back, it’s in my DNA to want to take care of others in a non-martyr kind of way.


As a case in point, this past Friday afternoon, I was looking forward to wrapping up the week to enjoy my first work-free weekend in some time. But then, an issue came up that quickly threatened that outlook and even made me wonder if I needed to cancel my dinner plans for the evening. When I approached my boss to discuss a game plan to deal with the development, he said he’d handle the situation from that point on and that he didn’t want it to affect my weekend.

While I appreciated that—he really is a great boss—I didn’t feel good about leaving him on his own all weekend without trying to help in some way. As such, on Saturday, I took the initiative of taking care of something else I knew he had to do over the weekend in the hopes that he could get some time back. It was the caregiver instinct that compelled me to do that. Taking care of each other and having each others’ back is what being on the same team means to me, including people above and below my role in the organizational hierarchy.

How May I Serve?

To sum it up, the wisdom of the intuitive message that came through me when I quieted my mind underscores the importance of being other-focused. I’m grateful that my inner wisdom reminded me of that, lest I get lost in my self-imposed (a.k.a. ego-imposed) pressure to perform or in worrying about whether I’m coming up to speed on the job fast enough. It reminds me of a piece of advice Dr. Wayne Dyer often offers to keep our ego in check, i.e., to ask ourselves, “How may I serve?If we could remember to focus on this question, we’d never truly need to wonder what we need to do in order to succeed or if we’d be taken care of if we didn’t fend for ourselves first.

Over to you: Do you agree that if we focus on serving others, we wouldn’t need to worry about success or being taken care of?


Photo credit:

If you’re new here, welcome! I invite you to subscribe to my blog via email or RSS feed. Simply look for the “Subscribe & Connect” box below.

About Alice Chan, Ph.D.

Dr. Alice Chan is passionate about developing conscious leaders and organizations. Her path to serve her life purpose has included being an award-winning Cornell professor and a leader in the corporate world for nearly 15 years. She’s the author of the book, REACH Your Dreams: Five Steps to be a Conscious Creator in Your Life, and creator of the program, 30 Days to Living Your Best Life. All content on this blog and website is her own, not the opinions of her employer.

Subscribe & Connect

Subscribe to blog articles by email, and connect with Alice across the web.

, , , , , ,

ThinDifference 1 Like

A key question every good leader asks! Thanks for highlighting this important question. The real leaders, after asking this question, act upon the answers to it fully and completely, with empathy of spirit, toughness in resolve, and a mindset of growth. Jon

DrAliceChan moderator

@ThinDifference Great additions to what happens after asking the question, Jon. Indeed, leaders need to take action on what's the right thing to do, even if it may not be easy, and always growing. Thank you for adding your insights.

scott_elumn8 1 Like

I think this is the first and last question on a true leader's heart. Thank you for this great post and story Alice.

AlliPolin 1 Like

Alice, I absolutely think that when we give, that's when we receive the most.  As leaders, if we're afraid that going the extra mile in service of others will somehow make us look less than... it's time to examine that belief and pick a new one that will better serve all.  Great example of not only how your bossed stepped in to support you but in turn created a chain/culture of service and support that you were a part of on Saturday.  Definitely brought to life your message.  Look forward to sharing this with the leaders in my life! 

DrAliceChan moderator

@AlliPolin Alli, so glad you appreciate the story re: my boss. His desire to take care of his team only inspires us to want to take care of him, even though that isn't his motivation. Having him as my boss was a big reason why I decided to take the job. Thank you for joining the conversation, Alli!

Hiten Vyas
Hiten Vyas 1 Like

Hi Alice,

This was another excellent post and I agree that being other focused does mean that we win. We win because we've made someone's life easier. It's also great because our ego doesn't arise and can't make us insecure or experience fear etc. Being other focused also makes us feel good as well.

Thank you.

DrAliceChan moderator

@Hiten Vyas Thank you for your kind words, Hiten. And, yes, helping others definitely feels good! You're absolutely right on also about being other-focused keeps ego out. That's precisely the point, because ego is self-identified. When our energy is directed to others, it isn't turned inward to feed ego-based fears and insecurities. Thank you veyr much for adding your insights, Hiten!

Createwebsites2 1 Like

Hi Alice!

I enjoyed reading your article in particular this sentence  "the importance of being other-focused" .  For example, bloggers often forget to social media is all about reaching out and helping others.

DrAliceChan moderator

@Createwebsites2 Thank you for pointing out that social media is about reaching out and helping others. The connectivity really gives those wishing to serve and broader platform to share a message of empowerment.

tsihly 1 Like

Great article. I have a natural tendency to help others and serve others in any way I possibly can. I feel good when I'm helping others succeed. I believe that is an important quality in me that will help me succeed as an aspiring educational leader. As you indicate above, great leaders serve others and help them do well. I believe that when leaders set the example of serving and supporting others to promote success for all, followers will naturally emulate the behavior and serve others as well. I believe that the need for success is an innate desire and when people are genuinely supported on the road to success they would naturally want to contribute and take part in that fervor of achievement.   

DrAliceChan moderator

@tsihly Thank you for sharing your opinion on this topic. Yes, one of the things we as leaders can do is to model the service orientation. As you pointed out, those we lead would emulate that. When people feel supported to succeed, they'd naturally want to do the same for others.

%d bloggers like this: