Are You Adding Value?


November 24, 2008   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

We have, for the most part, been brought up to believe that we must compete with others to grab our share of limited resources and success. We learned as children that the ‘I’ is the center of the universe, and we tend to live our lives on subconscious scripts which promote and protect our own egos. For many of us, we think that meaning is found in a better job, a higher salary or net worth, a better job title and so on.

But there is another way of operating, another paradigm which insists that meaning is found only in serving others. Albert Einstein said that ‘only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.’ Service to others is what we could call adding value. The results of living in such a way ripple out and affect the world around us in profound and unexpected ways.

“We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results.” ~ Herman Melville

If you’re not adding value, you’re destroying it. You cannot stand still – you can either give or you can take away. The manager who learns no new skills and fails to keep up to date with his field is going to fall behind and put his company at a disadvantage. The teacher who fails to keep up to date with recent developments in education is going to harm her students’ chances of academic success. You can grow, or you can regress; you can give or take away – but there is no standing still.

Adding value makes the world a better place. An author who writes a book that helps others; a teacher who encourages a student to excel; a manager who supports her staff to take risks and try new things; a sportsman or an artist who gives pleasure to others – all improve the lives of others, and hence improve the world.

You are going to get something back. Confucius wrote, ‘He who wishes to secure the good of others, has already secured his own.’ Nature seems to like to keep things flowing, so your talents, time and money ought to be sent out into the world – in return, things will come flowing back to you. If you hoard things or keep your talents and skills to yourself, they will decline and decay, but if you use them, you’ll keep them fresh and relevant and so they will be more useful to yourself an others. Or to put it another way, ‘Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others, cannot keep it from themselves’ (James M. Barrie).

It brings opportunity. If you develop a reputation as a person who is always positive, always tries to find a solution and always adds something to a situation, you’ll make friends and influence others. There are two kinds of people – problem people and solution people. Which are you?

In the end, adding value is the path to true happiness and fulfillment. Adding value is what you were put on this earth to do. Albert Sweitzer said, ‘I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.’ So I encourage you to serve, to add some value. Opportunities for service are all around us. Meditate on the beautiful words of Anne Frank: ‘How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.’

Written on 11/25/2008 by Michael Miles. Michael writes about personal growth, communication, and increasing personal wealth at Effortless Abundance. You can download his book, Thirty Days to Change Your Life, for free. Photo Credit: joguldi



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