I have been thinking about belonging this week. Work-wise, I’m spending time with an employer trying to build a culture that embraces it. Another client is an employee who is clearly not feeling they belong in their workspace. Equally important, my personal network has a couple of people struggling with feeling like they don’t belong in their families. All tough stuff.
We all want to belong. As I wrote about in this post earlier this year, a simple symbol on a truck creates identity and community. I find that half of my coaching sessions include some aspect of this idea of fitting in and needing to be acknowledged. I continue to be amazed — and fully recognize my own privilege — at how foreign a concept it is for some to feel like they belong in their home or work. And while I recognize the slippery slope from belonging to falling into a ‘us vs them’ mindset, everyone deserves to feel welcome.
All these discussions reminded me of a Goodable post (follow them for a much happier feed!) that a friend shared earlier this year. It celebrates a 100-year old UK man who volunteers time to teach children to read. He was given an award to acknowledge his community contributions and was interviewed after receiving the recognition.
His best line from the interview: “I am just a run-of-the-mill guy who just does something which has helped me get through my week. … It’s a wonderful feeling to feel like I belong…I am part of the community.” You can watch the clip here: https://twitter.com/Goodable/status/1617687167895240704
As we talk about a lot at Four Simple Words, service is a secret force of good. Not just for those we are in service to but equally so (and sometimes even more) for ourselves. As our research has shown, lots of good comes from being in service to others. It’s a great way to clear our own minds of that meddling little voice that says we aren’t good enough, shouldn’t take that risk, or, we don’t belong. When I step into service we are shifting focus off ourselves and onto others. This quickly leads to belonging to something other than my own fears or worries. This is a founding concept of Service Leadership which you can read about here.
Service Leaders model what good service looks like through our actions and behaviours. One of the most import things ways we do this is actively create tangible opportunities for others to be of service to someone or something. When we invite others to participate in service we create spaces of respect, purpose and belonging.