I’ve been thinking a lot about service lately—why we serve others, why we give back, and what a powerful and transformational thing it is to participate in moments when you’re expecting nothing in return. Over the course of my life, service and giving back has played a monumental role in my personal and professional well-being. And I believe it’s a fundamental aspect of one’s success and overall happiness in life. I wrote Secrets of the Art World to give back to all the artists that helped me over the years. I regularly host events and contribute to causes that are near and dear to my heart. I believe from the bottom of my heart that it is my duty to serve and give, and I have to say, the more I give the more I receive—in dividends.
Serving others is quite possibly the most important thing we can do as human beings. Over the course of my career, I’ve discovered that serving others is a three-step process. My advice to anyone who wants to succeed—not just in the art world, but anywhere, needs to do these three things: Complain less, be grateful, and then pay it forward.
1. Complain Less.
Whenever I find myself complaining about what I’m am not getting or what others aren’t doing, I stop myself and say: How am I contributing to this situation (i.e. pushing people too hard, setting unrealistic expectations, looking for problems instead of focusing on the good)? Am I doing enough to help and support this person or this event? If I am being completely honest, the answer is a solid “no.” Because, if I have the time to complain about someone or something, then I am not putting in the time to fix or help a situation. It’s easy to blame others. It’s easy to complain about various situations—lack of money, resources, support, etc. It’s easy to say that the problem lies in someone else’s behavior, someone else’s action, or some outside forces. But, the reality is most of life’s problems, dramas, and issues lie within each of one of us—mostly in our unwillingness to look outside ourselves for five minutes and see things from another’s point of view, and more often than not, our inability to take stock in what we do have or what others are doing for us. We’re all guilty of it. Every single one of us, myself included. Being aware of our complaints and our moments of ingratitude can be powerful shifts in our self-development. Make a conscious effort every day to complain less and do more for others—and not just because “you’ll get something out of it.” True service requires you to be willing to help others, who may not be able to help you back in that moment.
2. Take stock and be grateful.
Over the years I have benefited enormously from the generosity, talents, time, and efforts of others on my behalf. I couldn’t have built this business without both the emotional and financial support of my family, clients, and employees. It’s impossible for me to sit here and ignore their hard work, sacrifices, time, passion and energy that contributed to my success. Trust me it’s easy to do. It’s easy to think: “I did this all by myself. No one helped me.” Really? Say that sentence out loud a few times to yourself. Or go say that to a few employees and coworkers. Watch their faces. Their reactions will tell you everything you need to know. It’s a delusional thought. And yet it’s a thought that many people who haven’t taken a deep look at themselves and their success story have on a continual basis. And I believe it’s a thought that contributes to most problems we humans face in the home, the office, and the world. No one gets to where they are alone. Show gratitude every single day for all that you do have in life right now.
3. Then pay it forward and serve others.
I believe the solution to this selfish “what’s in it for me” thinking is quite simple: Give. Give help. Give advice. Give service. Give time. Give money. It doesn’t matter what you give, it’s that you do it. And that you do it selflessly with no expectation in return. Know that the gift will be that someday the people you serve will be able to pay it forward and serve others the way you served them. The most powerful reminders to me of selfless servers whom I can’t repay are our veterans. Whenever I read stories about the sacrifices our military have made for our country—for me—I am overwhelmed. They don’t know me, they don’t know my family, but they are willing to put their body in harm’s way to protect us anyway. (And there is no way on earth I can ever repay them for their service.) All I can do is pay it forward and serve others. So when the opportunity to partner with the Easterseals to bring award-winning photographer David Jay’s “The Unknown Soldier” exhibit to Cincinnati for a limited time before it heads to the Library of Congress for permanent display, I seized it. I knew this was my chance to show others what I already know to be true: Service is a powerful act. We at ADC are so honored to be hosting The Unknown Soldier Exhibit. We are opening it to the public all day on August 16th here in our gallery. You can order tickets in advance. Know that your contribution is helping people like David Jay continue to highlight the service and impact of others through art.
I’d love for you to join us RSVP here.
And I’d love to hear how you serve others and what causes are most important to you.