Your 2014 Ladder of Success: Reverse It

Posted on | December 16, 2013 | 24 Comments

I had every intention of blowing out the year with a message to you about MORE. How you can achieve more. Become more. Earn more.
What better way to launch into the New Year than a clear strategy to climb the ladder of success?

Well, I heard a story recently that messed all that up. Instead of reading about how you’re going to crush your 2014 goals, you’re going to read about ice cream.

Shane Claiborne is a brave guy. In college, he passed up spring breaks and internships in favor of volunteering alongside Mother Teresa. He scraped together enough money to travel to Calcutta, India where he served in a missionary that “gives wholehearted and free service to the poorest of the poor.”

Calcutta’s poverty is extreme and something I’ve seen firsthand during travels there. Homeless, orphaned children as young as five or six survive as street beggars. One of their few bright spots is an occasional meal at Mother Teresa’s missionary.

One day, Shane learned it was one of the boy’s birthday so he snuck the boy an ice cream cone – a treat so extravagant that the youngster had likely never before tasted it. “Happy Birthday, kid,” whispered Shane. “Now keep this quiet because I don’t have enough money to buy everybody else one.”

At that moment, what do you think Birthday Boy did?
“Hey gang!” he shouted, “We have ice cream!”
The ensuing stampede had Shane running for cover and dreading a sea of disappointed faces. But Birthday Boy’s next announcement turned the tide.
“Now listen up.. We have only one cone, so we all get one lick.”

The kids formed a line, at which point Birthday Boy proceeded to share his cone with the others. Last person to get a lick: Birthday Boy.

That boy’s ice cream cone was equivalent to the most lavish holiday gift you or I can imagine receiving. But when life showers us with blessings, what’s our first reaction as to how to enjoy them?

If we could rekindle just one instinct within ourselves, what better than the good will so purely displayed by one of the world’s neediest children?

I’m not proclaiming we denounce worldly possessions and dash off to Calcutta. But as Mother Teresa told Shane, “There are Calcuttas everywhere.”

Shane Claiborne’s story reminds me that the best things in life happen when we bring the best in life to others. I probably read this somewhere on a bumper sticker but the quote is apropos: The highest calling in life is not to lead but to serve.

Finding opportunities to serve others is easy, and therein lies my holiday wish for us all:
In 2014, let’s focus less on climbing the ladder of success and focus more on descending it. Serving your family, your community, and your customers reaps more rewards than anything that serves you.

Special thanks to Todd Durkin, whose recent blog included some terrific ideas on how you can serve others:

• Surprise your mail carrier/ salon stylist / housekeeper with a $20 Starbucks gift card in a thank you note.

• Write a positive Yelp review about a local business you appreciate.

• Donate blood. Remember: a pint of blood can save up to three lives.

• Get involved with a philanthropic activity your church is sponsoring in the community.

• Write an inspirational note to 10 friends or family members and thank them for what they do on a regular basis.

• Sponsor or “scholarship” a friend, family member, or co-worker for a conference, event, fitness class, certification or workshop this person really wants to participate in but can’t afford.

• Or, host a special class or workshop at your business and donate 100% of the proceeds to a charity of your choice.

• At least once a day compliment someone you know.

• Smile at every stranger you see. A smile can make someone’s day.

• Leave gratitude notes for your family / co-workers / friends to find when they would least expect it – inside a lunch box, taped to their computer screen, on the bathroom mirror, inside their luggage, in the pocket of a jacket, etc.

…and one of my favorites from Corporate Visions CEO and Ironman Triathlete Joe Terry.

Wishing you a Happy Holidays! May your 2014 be filled with opportunities to serve.

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Comments

24 Responses to “Your 2014 Ladder of Success: Reverse It”

  1. Ryan
    December 17th, 2013 @ 8:10 am

    Very timely Ben…great piece. Happy Holidays to all!

  2. Jim Aden
    December 17th, 2013 @ 9:03 am

    Well said, Ben! Beautiful story. Each year, Anne and I try to give less to each other and more to others and yes, it does make for a better holiday season! Thanks for the inspiration. Happy Holidays to you and your family!

  3. Bill Thomasson
    December 17th, 2013 @ 9:36 am

    Great story and message Ben. You know I have to add “Recycle yourself, become an organ donor and save 7 lives.” Merry Christmas to all!

  4. pat mchale
    December 17th, 2013 @ 9:42 am

    Sounds just like Ben Lawrence. Have a great
    holiday with your family!

  5. Ken Bachman
    December 17th, 2013 @ 9:46 am

    I appreciate you, Ben. Thanks for sharing a strong message.

  6. Matt Koster
    December 17th, 2013 @ 10:27 am

    Good Read,

    Sometimes we get so cought up in our self absorbed world that we forget to remember those that helped us along the way. Today I will do somthing for someone and expect nothing in return. Doing somthing for someone should be for the sole reason of doing it. If we help enough people get what they want and need, we will want and need for nothing ourselves.

    Peace and love to all who read this!

  7. Valentine de Roubaix
    December 17th, 2013 @ 12:14 pm

    Hi Ben,

    This is very inspiring, thanks for sharing!

    It reminded me about a new initiative I’ve participated in in Belgium; it’s a concept called “suspended coffee”.
    It’s very simple; you can enter a bar, buy your coffee and buy a second one you call “suspended”. People in need can enter the bar anytime and ask if they have suspended coffees, which are offered to them.
    Of course, since we’re Belgian, we’ve expanded it to fries. And I know in some establishments you can buy “suspended sandwich”, “suspended soup”, etc.
    I think it originated in Naples, Italy, but it’s now expanding in other countries.
    I usually ask about it in Mexico, when I go to a bar… I haven’t found any participant here yet, but who knows?

    Happy holidays to you and your family, Ben!

  8. Debbie Dillon
    December 17th, 2013 @ 2:22 pm

    Nice post Ben and very fitting for the season and all year. Happy Holidays and to you and your family!

  9. Ben Lawrence
    December 17th, 2013 @ 8:37 pm

    Debbie, Your family leads by example and embodies the giving spirit. Your MS fundraising efforts are a shining examples for us all to follow!

  10. Ben Lawrence
    December 17th, 2013 @ 8:41 pm

    “Suspended coffee”… I love it!
    Val, If anyone has the panache to instill a Belgian tradition in the wild streets of Mexico City, it’s YOU. Enjoy your first Christmas season as a “Mrs.” and thanks for commenting on the blog.

  11. Ben Lawrence
    December 17th, 2013 @ 8:45 pm

    Matt, I am PROUD of your declaration and am smiling as I imagine how you made someone else’s day today. You are a champion for choosing to take action.

  12. Ben Lawrence
    December 17th, 2013 @ 8:47 pm

    Thank you, Ken, for following the blog and expressing your gratitude. I’m grateful for your support and friendship :)

  13. Ben Lawrence
    December 17th, 2013 @ 8:49 pm

    ….and like NEPA’s best ever Realtor.
    Pat, You practiced the Golden Rule every day that I had the pleasure of working with you. I still reflect upon your servant mindset and try to carry it forward. Happy Holidays to you & family!

  14. Ben Lawrence
    December 17th, 2013 @ 8:50 pm

    Oh, how did I forget that one? Absolutely, Bill. Thank you for reminding us of this most valued gift.

  15. Ben Lawrence
    December 17th, 2013 @ 8:52 pm

    “Give less to each other and more to others..” That’s the spirit, Jim! I’m glad you enjoyed the story and look forward to hearing from you again soon.

  16. Ben Lawrence
    December 17th, 2013 @ 8:52 pm

    Same to you, Ryan. Glad you enjoyed the blog!

  17. Joel Blunk
    December 18th, 2013 @ 11:43 pm

    Thanks, Ben, for the perspective – service is in everyone’s wheelhouse, if you know what I mean.

    Merry Christmas!

  18. Joyce Sharkey
    December 20th, 2013 @ 11:15 am

    Thanks, Ben for the inspiration. It is really amazing how trivial your own troubles and concerns can seem when you involve yourself in the lives of those that have so much less than we do or who suffer more pain and deprivation. It not only helps those we serve, it helps us put our own lives in perspective and lessens our anxieties. A Win/Win. Blessed holiday to all.
    Joyce

  19. Heather Betts
    December 23rd, 2013 @ 4:23 pm

    Ben,
    another great blog; I also read your blog from December 2012…..I’m very pleased and proud to be able to read these blogs Ben….you’re a good, honorable, man. May you be blessed with continued health, happiness and joy in your family and hearth. Merry Christmas, Ben. So glad to be able to connect with you on LinkedIn.
    Warmly,

  20. Ben Lawrence
    December 31st, 2013 @ 2:58 pm

    Heather,
    How nice to reconnect with you and hear that you’re enjoying the blogs. I’m sure you’re as hard working and honest today as you were all those years ago, something that comes through in your kind words. Thank you for sharing them!

  21. Ben Lawrence
    December 31st, 2013 @ 3:00 pm

    What’s the quote, Joyce? Maybe from Stephen Covey: “Win/Win or no deal.”
    You’re right, though, nothing in life cheers us up like finding a way to cheer up someone else.
    Thank you for commenting on the blog. Looking forward to win/wins with YOU in 2014!

  22. Ben Lawrence
    December 31st, 2013 @ 3:02 pm

    Joel,
    Thank YOU for serving US with Shane Claiborne’s message. Here’s to a New Year with wheelhouses spinning faster, stronger than ever before :)

  23. Marilyn Hoare
    May 20th, 2014 @ 2:38 pm

    Several in my family read Boys in the Boat. Thank you for recommending this book it was inspirational.

  24. Ben Lawrence
    May 28th, 2014 @ 10:33 am

    So glad you enjoyed that book, Marilyn. Doesn’t it make you want to jump in a rowboat and hammer across the lake? Or at least marvel at the men and women who do that competitively.
    Thanks for your comments and for following this blog!

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    Ben Lawrence Ben's expertise is helping organizations reach their full potential through an empathetic, value-first, challenger-based focus on their customers.  Data analysts want to choke him but entrepreneurial, sales driven, profitable, customer-centric organizations (or those who aspire to become one) love him.

    Ben lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, three daughters, dog Elvis and foo foo but badass dog Ginger. He is a competitive triathlete and member of the National Eagle Scout Association.

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