Every job is a service job.
Often, we think of service jobs as those that mostly involve bringing people things or taking them away, such as our food or refuse. These can (often incorrectly) be associated with lower pay, poorer job satisfaction or a less glamorous image.
These are jobs that are often looked down upon in our society, seen as somehow 'lower' despite their essential role in society.
From putting food on shelves to delivering goods to our doors to teaching our children (albeit virtually) to care for our sick, all these positions with their varying degrees of perceived prestige, have this in common: They are in service of others!
The term ‘Customer Service’, when distilled to its essence, applies to almost any role, in every industry. In the words of this piece from Brazen.com, “It wouldn’t be a job unless you were providing some sort of service to somebody.”
We are all here to help someone get what they want, achieve a goal or fix a problem. That spans from satisfying hunger to curing sickness, to providing education, to defending someone in court!
Greatness is determined…
Martin Luther King said "Everybody can be great because everybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. Everyone has the power for greatness, not for fame but greatness, because greatness is determined by service.”
Inspired by this philosophy that ‘greatness is determined by service’, Oprah Winfrey gave a well-known commencement address at Spelman College in 2012, elaborating that:
"When you shift the paradigm of whatever it is you choose to do to Service, and you bring significance to that, success will, I promise you, follow you."
From Hunter-Gatherers to Today.
Every job, regardless of its financial rewards, the calibre of education it demands, or the fame that it may afford can be considered an act of Service to the world.
A doctor serves the world by caring for us. A musician serves the world by inspiring us. An artist by moving us. A comedian by entertainment. This service does not have to occur on a worldwide platform to make a difference.
These roles have always existed, right back to primitive societies in the form of hunters, gatherers, shamans, healers, carers, and even musicians.
The same is true of medieval culture, with their town Scribes; the select few literate members of society who served their community and the world by recording its events.
Today it remains. Consider your own career.
Try it yourself.
How can you reframe what you do into this paradigm of service, and let it guide you?
In our industry, for example, developers in tech serve the world by innovating and creating products which solve a myriad of human problems.
Recruiters, in turn, serve the world through ethical practice, setting better precedents, guiding career journeys with understanding, valuing the goals of others, and thereby making the working world a better place for everyone.
The writer of this article might like to think they serve the world by sharing that which has served them.
Serve by Leading.
One of the best ways to focus on our service to others in a more immediate sense is through leadership.
With significant influence over the development of their team, leaders have the opportunity to achieve greatness through service, especially in the eyes of those they lead. By focusing on how everything we do can serve our team, and the world, we become more mindful of how we can offer support, establish better understanding, facilitate progress, set great examples, and let the ripple effect spread by way of results that speak for themselves.
So, whatever your role, however, or whomever you may lead, and whatever you do to serve the world, keep that goal in mind to see if it can transform your perspective on work, and as Oprah promises, bring success your way.