I am writing this post on my birthday. I’m not one of those folks that go over the top for my birthday. But this one prompts me to be more introspective than usual, though I don’t know why.
Perhaps it’s because, as my girlfriend Donna recently reminded me, I am 53 – a prime number. Yes, I’m in my prime – the best years of my life.
I just told someone that my 20s were about learning my technical specialty; my 30s were about being a subject matter expert and a technical manager; my 40s were about learning to be a manager of area outside my expertise; and my 50s seem to be all about leadership.
However, in my prime, things seem to be quite different. It’s less about me – about skills I need to acquire – and more about seeds I sprinkle in society to serve a greater good, as Greenleaf noted. In other words, it’s less about the gifts I have or receive and more about the gifts I give. This gives new meaning to the traditional sense of celebrating a birthday.
Those non-traditional gifts can be recognized by asking the following questions, according to Greenleaf:
Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived?“
I blew out my candles last night, but deferred making a wish. Tonight, the night of my birthday, seems to be a fitting time to make that wish. Here goes:
I wish to grow in the ability to serve unconditionally – this includes serving people who I judge undeserving. I wish to maintain the humility of self-doubt – that I have indeed attained that much-coveted status of servant leader. I wish to keep striving for that elusive goal, and in the process, leave a benefit to those whose life I touch.