If You Light a Lamp

There is a quote that opens my book Lifting a Foot Forward that reads;

“If you light a lamp for somebody, it will also brighten your own path.”
– Unknown

I loved that quote for the beginning of that particular book because the words to follow were intended to reflect my gratitude toward others, and how their service to others have guided me.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. Service to others. I’ve been thinking about how the concept so often gets discussed, but with seemingly little practical application. Service to others, specifically helping others toward success, has always been a focal point of my business management career. My philosophy is: if the people who work for you succeed, you in turn will enjoy success. Sadly, it is my experience with others that offer me little faith this philosophy is common.

That isn’t to say people out there aren’t mindful of the success of others, and doing what they can to help. It does happen. But am I wrong in feeling like it only becomes noticeable during great tragedy and challenge, such as catastrophic weather or horrific acts of man? If service to others was more common, in fact a social or cultural instinct like greeting someone “hello”, would we have the framework for even preventing horrific acts of man? How will we know if we don’t try, right?

If I’m being honest, today’s cultural norm is a little exhausting. There are a lot of distractions out there, and none seem to be fostering relationships with each other. That is disappointing. As I get older, I’ve learned the relationships that I do have, and there aren’t too many, are more important than just about anything else I have. I’m invested in the success of my friends and my family. Whatever I can do to help, I try. I may not always succeed, and hell, I may not always be available…But I try.

I’m not sure why I’ve been thinking about this lately. Getting wiser, maybe? Sheesh…That’s a scary thought. I guess maybe it’s a reflection of the value of my relationships. So, what’s an actionable first step toward making service to others a cultural instinct?

Just. Do. It.

One thing this world could do without is excuses. Mine included. Do one thing every single day that is in service to others. One thing. Maybe you’ll get addicted and tomorrow you’ll find more things you can help with. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll find it reciprocal.

I think, too, if we all light a few lamps for others, not only will it light our own path, but the whole world will be that much brighter.

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