It’s Not About You

This weekend I attended a speaking workshop, Accelerate Live in Minneapolis, put on by a new friend of mine, Ryan Estis and his speaking coach, Jane Atkinson. It was a great weekend hearing stories of sacrifice from Seth Mattison, a college friend, now crushing it as a speaker and Storytelling Strategist, Kindra Hall.

At the closing keynote Ryan — who has shared the stage with Gary Vaynerchuk, Dan Pink and Simon Sinek — told a story from not too long ago in his life when he felt like quitting. Due to consecutive personal setbacks, Ryan felt like he was finished and it was time to close the chapter on his speaking career. This was an hour before he was supposed to deliver a keynote in Orlando. But through the encouragement of his staff and close friends they all told him “you must go on”.

After this keynote he received an email from an attendee sharing with him how he impacted her that day, reminding him that “it’s not about me. It’s about them”. It seems a bit counter-cultural to me, but I really believe to have this mindset we have to value ourselves so much that we can totally go out in the service of others. When we value ourselves we trust in abundance. This trust in abundance is what gives us the ability to go all in with service.

I was watching Patrick Lencioni keynote on YouTube the other night and he said all humans are born inherently selfish. I completely disagree. I actually could not disagree more. Look at how much little kids are willing to share without someone telling them they need to. We are born selfless, willing to share and serve. This is how we operate until we are conditioned by the world to live in comparison, develop a scarcity mindset and become selfish. In order to truly serve we have to serve ourselves and value ourselves first.

So the other night on my layover at the Denver airport I stopped at my favorite airport restaurant, Root Down — they have an insanely good veggie burger.

The server I had was fairly kind and friendly — not over the top, but I decided to write her a note on the check and leave her a more than generous tip. It was my way of reminding her that she can have an incredible impact on others just by doing little things. As leaders we have to do a much better job of praising people for what they do well and not criticizing what they do wrong. I’d be willing to bet that each customer interaction that she had after mine she showed up with even more enthusiasm.

After dinner, I headed to The Coffee Bean, arrived in line at pretty much the same time as a stewardess and decided to let her go in front of me. I continued to pass it on. I grabbed my coffee and head back towards the gate. And, when I boarded my flight a different stewardess handed me a free drink voucher.


I doubt it.

Is this a huge deal?

No, but I think it serves as a reminder that like Gary Vaynerchuk says “Karma is practical”.

Be grateful for everything, but expect nothing. Deliver massive value up front because it’s the right thing to do. Not because you are expecting to get anything in return.