As it appeared in the Daily Nation of December 23rd 2014
Service is rated by oxforddictories.com as one of the top 1000 frequently used words. Perceived by many differently, service whether as a verb or a noun is a word that makes our world go round. To some it is the simple act of assistance while to others service is what they do every day. The word whose origins according to different sources range from slavery to religious devotion is used across sectors and across borders. In the military for example we have service men, when we take a car to the garage we say we have taken it for service. We also make reference to public service, to community service, to food service and so on. In business, customers want service and staff provide service and even on Sundays many Christians refer to their religious gatherings as a service.
There is no doubt that in our everyday lives, we serve in many different ways. Being at someone’s service means being ready to help the person or do some work for them. Do you know that this act in itself is said to bring joy? An Indian Poet Rabindranath Tagore who lived in the 19th century put it this way “I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.” In addition, a well known leader Mahatma Gandhi at the same time said “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” This is not any different today. The best front line staff that I have interacted with over the years believe that the act of service in itself is fulfilling. It brings joy both to the giver and to the recipient.
There are many ways to serve. Within our organizations, we serve each other, we serve our business partners and we serve our customers. In our families we serve our children, our spouses, our parents and our siblings and even when interacting with our friends we extend acts of service. In our communities, in our nation and even in the world as a whole there are many opportunities to serve. It is unlikely that many of us can spend an entire day amongst people without extending an act of service. Service is both to those that are well know to us and even to strangers that we may never meet again.
Should service be about the giver or the receipt? I believe that both stand to benefit. Quite often we think about service when we are on the receiving end especially as customers. Off course the giver has a major responsibility to provide a service that meets the receiver’s expectation. The receiver too has a responsibility to create an environment that is conducive for service. Givers of service have an upper hand though in ensuring that their service generates joy. If we choose to provide good service we gain not only from repeat customers and positive world of mouth but also from the joy, the happiness and the pleasure of a job well done.
To all our readers, I wish you a fabulous Christmas filled with joy as you serve those around you. As always, it is a joy being at your service!
Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer and can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org/old or via twitter @kiruthulucy