Unconditional service is the mark of a great leader. According to Webster’s Dictionary the word unconditional is defined as, “not conditional or limited.” Therefore, the concept of unconditional service comes with no strings attached. Nothing is expected in return. Serving others who can do nothing at all for you in return is the ultimate form of unconditional service.
A few weeks ago, I got to attend one of my favorite events of the year, the Cobb Chamber of Commerce’s Public Safety Breakfast. At the event, the best of the best in public safety are celebrated. The event recognizes the extraordinary service of individuals and teams in the world of Police, Fire, EMS, and 911 operations. The heroes of our community.
Our nomination from the City of Acworth Police Department came from the C-Shift, a team comprised of four individuals. Due to some audio/video challenges that morning, the Chamber was unable to play the videos that told the story of each nomination. The nomination was read instead. I did not get to see the video (link provided at the end) until a few days later. The words read did not do justice to the actions I saw.
Initiate Unconditional Service
On a day where temperatures were forecasted to be below freezing, the shift decided to go visit known homeless camps in and around the community. As they searched the various locations, they came across a homeless gentlemen laying in an abandoned storm pipe in the woods. He was passed out, covered in urine, feces, and could barely move.
The officers were familiar with the individual, who referred to himself as “Spiderman.” The team acted quickly, pulled together a makeshift gurney made from blankets and the four officers carried him out of the woods to meet the ambulance. Spiderman ended up getting transported to the hospital where they found he was suffering from the effects of hyperthermia.
Serve Those Who Can Do Nothing In Return For You
The initiative the team took was not written in a job description or in a standard operating procedures manual, it was written in their hearts. If it were not for their initiative and compassion for people in our community, regardless of their status, Spiderman would not have made it through the night. These incredible officers chose to serve someone who could do nothing in return for them. They served him unconditionally.
Here is a critical question that their unconditional service prompted me to ask myself. A question we should challenge ourselves with daily as leaders.
Am I Getting Beyond Me?
Maybe you don’t struggle with this concept, but I certainly can. Getting beyond myself can be a struggle. Everywhere I go, everything I think, there I am. We are selfish by nature.
Prior to serving in my current position with the city, I served as the Director of our Parks, Recreation, and Community Resource Department. Our leadership team would read books together and have follow up discussions. During a discussion, one of our Alderman (known in most communities as a City Councilman) Tim Houston happened to stop by and participated.
Selfish vs Selfless
We were on the topic of selfishness. He made a comment about our selfish nature that stuck with me to this day. He said, “You do not see self-help sections in bookstores on how to be more selfish.” He was right, there are whole sections of leadership and self-help books on how NOT be selfish. It takes no work to be selfish. Work is required to be to be selfless.
Conclusion – Unconditional Service
In leadership, how often do we get beyond ourselves and serve others? Do we get so consumed in our daily grind that we miss the needs of our people? Maybe it is a team member walking through the loss of a parent, a struggling marriage, a child with a severe medical condition, or just simply a season of discouragement. Our busyness can create a fog and we can’t see the little things. We just miss them!
Imagine if the C-Shift would have been so focused on their own world that day and never chose to take this initiative? Their choice resulted in life, not death. Most of us do not have that on the line each day. The life of our organizations is at stake though.
Take the blinders of busyness off. Set the task list aside to have a better vantage point of what is going on around you. Get beyond yourself and serve others. Do it unconditionally. Zero strings attached. Do it for those who can do absolutely nothing in return for you. Let your actions be someone else’s definition of unconditional service to others.
Am I getting beyond myself? Is my service conditional or unconditional? Will I serve those who can do nothing in return for me?