I don’t know how you woke up this morning. Maybe you were abruptly awakened by a screaming kid, a fire alarm, a blaring alarm clock, the vibrations of your Fitbit or other wearable, a gentle kiss from your partner, an easy shake, the sunlight beaming into your bedroom, or just your circadian rhythm. At some point in my life I have had the pleasure or inconvenience of all of the above.
There will be chapters in your life where you’re coasting, just getting by, and in your “routine”. All of the sudden, you’ll be awaken by a life event. Just as there are many different ways to be brought out of sleep, there are many ways to be brought out of complacency. Luckily, I was not in the pitfall of complacency when my most recent career event occurred. At the young age of twenty-eight, I have successfully made it through my first corporate restructure. Which inherently, for some, means a lost job. Some of my peers were abruptly awakened by a fire alarm. This event challenged me to do some self-reflecting. It challenged me to critically think, “what was the saving grace for the one’s who made it through this restructure?” There will obviously be people who actively decide to take the viewpoint of office politics, who’s drinking the kool-aid, and any other cop-out answer. I’m an eternal optimist; therefore, I choose to take a different perspective. I believe that if it were simplified to one overarching idea it would be one of value. How does this individual bring value? How much value does this individual bring to our organization?
“To add value to others one must first value others.” John Maxwell
This theme of adding value is one that a Gentleman will inject into every aspect of his life. He must ensure that he is adding value to his friendships, romantic relationships, career, casual interactions, church, teams or clubs, philanthropic organizations, family relationships, and any other type of relationship. The idea of adding value is not something that’s overtly measured or is quantifiable. Rather, it’s a very fluid concept that can be interpreted and accomplished through many different behaviors and results. To make this concept applicable to Gentleman and any particular aspect of life I’ll simplify.
The starting point is in changing your lens on life, relationships, and personal interactions. Albert Einstein said, “Strive not to be a success but rather to be of value“. We must embrace this new lens. The perspective of becoming successful is tied to the common ideology and image of the Gentleman. Rather, a true Gentleman needs to strive to be of value to others and himself. To be of value to yourself or other’s can be accomplished through the transfer of knowledge, improving the quality of someone’s mood or life, making someone smile or laugh, providing them a shoulder to lean on, challenging their idea’s/actions to help them make a better decision, and many other ways. The concrete thinker, and someone that defines life by success and not by value would ask, “How do I know if I’ve added value to someone?” You don’t know. I challenge you to not get lost in keeping track of how many specific times you add value, rather make it a life mission to add value to others. I would recommend keeping a journal and taking note of “how” you added value, how it made you feel, and the other party’s reaction. You’ll start to notice a common thread.
“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.“
There’s a misconception that fills us with fear, doubt, and ultimately, inaction. This is the inaccurate idea that to make a difference we have to have the next “big” idea. This is as far away from the truth as one can get. Human beings are creatures of habit, and we crave consistency and reliability. The little things are events that are common and occur everyday. A Gentleman will always exhibit the little behaviors because it’s part of their DNA. The idea of always executing on the little things is inherently true of world-class teams, Olympic champions, and the great performers. How does this apply to adding value? There is substantial value in consistency and reliability A gentleman will know the basic behaviors of every sector of his life and never miss a beat. These behaviors will look different for each Gentleman and the relationship. They will all be centered on the Pillars of the GentlemanProject; selflessness, best self, self-reflection, honesty, and active listening.
The little things, the little moments, they aren’t little.
A week has passed since my organization received our temporary career fate. After hours of reflection I’ve decided to have a renewed focus on adding value to every interaction, relationship, and segment of my life. I was prepared for my first corporate reorganization because I was not complacent, rather focused on adding value. I will add value to my relationships, others, and myself. Living life to add value is what a Gentleman does. I challenge you to commit to a life mission of adding value. The starting point is to find out what the little things are and always exhibit and execute on these expected behaviors. Every morning ask yourself, “How will I add value to others today?” What’s your plan for today?