They say that when you give a speech you really give three speeches.
The one you planned on giving. The one you gave. And the one you wish you gave on the way home.
At last night’s My Recipe for Peace Dinner I was asked to prepare 3 minutes of remarks describing my personal recipe for peace. I did. And after starting off the speech on an unrelated note and talking around the issue for 4 or 5 minut…es, I covered about 1/20th of the speech I had planned to give. And I didn’t bother concocting a third speech on the way home that I’d wished I’d given. Because I figured I’d just post the original. And wouldn’t feel so bad about never getting around to giving it. ; )
Remember the famous mantra from Bill Clinton’s successful presidential campaign in 1992, “It’s the Economy, Stupid?” Well, my recipe for peace is a re-phrasing of that formulation that is applicable in our everyday business (and personal) lives.
We are the “I” generation. We have iPods for “our” I-music, I-Phones with our personalized I-apps and our iPads where we get our I-News that tends to reinforce our comfortable echo chamber in our I-world we have proudly created for ourselves. And we want our food (and about everything else we buy) “my way.”
We live in a custom suit— not an off-the-rack —world. And can scarcely remember when we didn’t. We celebrate our individuality but often to the point of vanity and short-sighted narcissism
Yes, our I-World mentality is a proud celebration of our individual uniqueness, an indication of our real personality, and a reflection of our authenticity. And all that is a good thing. But like all good things taken to an extreme it has a destructive side as well. If we take our “I” absorption to an extreme—which is easier to do than resisting doing once we begin down this path—it can eventually lead to lives of intolerance, selfishness, disconnectedness and self-absorption. And that is bad thing for all involved. Bad personally and bad professionally.
So, how do we bring balance back from this imbalance? If we are focusing too far inwardly into serving ourselves the obvious answer is to focus more outwardly toward serving others.
How do I do that in my daily life? That was the question I was tasked to ask and answer for myself tonight. Well, quite frankly, I don’t. Not every day anyway, if I am honest. But I try and do it some days….perhaps many days. But I have to be mindful of this discipline and very deliberate or it fades quickly from memory.
Throughout every day in my job I am involved in multiple meetings on behalf of clients who I represent and advocate for. My job is, using the language of the day, to make sure clients I work with “get theirs.” After all, isn’t that what most people do each day? Make sure they “get theirs”?
Nothing wrong with that in and of itself. We all first and foremost need make sure we take care of our basic survival needs. But I believe there is an even better way to approach the world that is more a reflection of peace than fear. A way that allows all parties, in most cases, to get theirs too and to make the world in that particular instance just a little bit better for all involved.
Is that a Pollyanish viewpoint? No, it’s not. It is a fact I get to live and see daily.
Several years ago I was advised by a wise and caring mentor to take a different approach than I had been trained to do. Before each “meeting” I was told to pause before the meeting began, quietly bow my head and say a prayer something like this
“Lord, please help me be of service today and to be useful to You and others as we begin this meeting. Amen.”
That is a simple prayer. But has at times had profound results. It is a simple but powerful prayer.
It recalibrates me at the very time (moments before a business meeting) when I am leaning toward the brink of my most closed-off, defensive, narrow, and self-serving self and moves me into a completely different mindset that allows me to see many more possibilities, opportunities and to convey sincerity, genuine concern for all involved and credibility to be trusted by both my clients and the other side and encourage them both to work toward a common and mutually beneficial resolution.
And it works.
It doesn’t work in the “graph it on an Excel spreadsheet to prove it to me” kind of way. It does work in a way that can be conveyed as a successful mantra hanging in an office much like candidate Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign mantra, “It’s the Economy, Stupid”
Except it is “It’s Being of Service, Stupid!”
One final point. This isn’t a gimmick to help you get more of what you want. It is a prayer to help us be as useful as we can be in our daily lives. And that is the first and last goal. It often includes getting more for everyone but if service isn’t the primary motive it doesn’t seem to work so well. And this small act ….this short silent prayer….almost always leads to our own enhanced peace of mind. And it is also–and especially on this night— my offering of a small recipe for peace I would like to share at this blessed event.