The secret to just about everything is getting outside of yourself.
What do I mean by 'getting outside of yourself?' I just mean slowing down your brain and paying attention to the people around you. Putting a hold on your personal goals, and asking who needs help with theirs. Making a sacrifice so that someone else can get what they've been waiting for. Going over to your Mom's house instead of sending her a message on Facebook.
Over the last couple of decades, we've become a very individualized society. Words like 'family' and 'community' aren't dropped too much anymore when discussing life decisions. The idea of still being friends at 25 or 30 with the kid you met on the playground when you were 5? That's obsolete for 9 out of 10 people. With the traditional media explosion (radio, television, and eventually the Internet), culture shifted from what immediately surrounded you in your daily life to something that's worldwide, and people then had their pick of what culture they wanted to adhere to. Through traditional media, we all got grouped into the humanity movement. And, true to human nature, we rebelled by 'standing out,' 'being unique,' 'embracing diversity' and 'doing me.' (I could elaborate much more on the symptoms of individualism, but that's for later, and not quite the point of this.)
Then came what I lovingly refer to as Teh Soshal Mediaz. Thanks to social media, we've suddenly become a relational generation again. Sure, it looks wildly different from the 1950's, but I think we're finally realizing that we might have thrown the baby out with the bathwater when we raced to put our careers first, let go of some pretty significant family values, and when "doing me" became the epitome of Cool.
Even if you don't use social media, that's okay. It's changing your world for you, and you didn't even have to Like any Facebook fan pages. There's been an outrageous rush in even the last 365 days to raise awareness, build online communities, use Twitter to strengthen local non-profits, bring philanthrophy to the corporate world, interact personally with customer groups, and elevate the importance of sincere relationships.
We've even gotten so far as to have a man we call Doctor Love (Paul Zak) do extensive studies to prove that Oxytocin, the cuddle chemical, is triggered by things like a positive Facebook status comment. In the same way a bearhug from your best friend does. The significance? The corporate world is now anticipating that in the near future, their worth will be primarily measured not by their profit margins, but in customer relationships and their trust factor. Yes, people. Social capital is more valuable than money in the bank.
This has left us scrambling to figure out how to best gain this social capital. And it's so, so easy. The secret is getting outside of yourself.
What does this mean for you? It means that we finally have proof that putting others first is the best way for the world to work. It means that engaging in a sincerely interested manner with the person at the drive-thru gives you an amazingly good return on your 5 minute investment. It means that putting a sticky note on your dashboard reminding you to focus on others, and not yourself, will actually increase your standard of living. It means that the whole purpose of social media is to be social: "marked by friendly companionship with others."
But, there's a catch. Being driven by love isn't something you can fake. Even behind a creative Twitter handle, intricate philanthropic blog network, or super cute profile photo, people can tell fairly quickly what your motive is. Most people who are paying attention can skim a blog, and after 10 minutes, give you a fairly educated guess on what that blogger's definition of success is.
I want this to be a challenge to you. Make a conscious decision to put other people's interests above your own. When you go through the drive-thru, stop thinking about your next destination long enough to realize that a real human being is serving you. And when you jump on Twitter and half-skim a couple hundred tweets as your type yours up, pay attention to who needs a little extra love that day.
Success isn't complicated, you guys. Fight the urge to be ruled by the numbers game and to be 'doing me', and let's go back to our 1950's roots - where family and community take priority in our lives. While still crushing on our sexy MacBook Pros.