The Unselfishness of Love in Action

Time for Part 4 of my “Elements of Love” series based on Henry Drummond’s nine elements of love from his book The Greatest Thing in the World.

Drummond’s sixth element is Unselfishness. Here’s what he writes about it:

“Love as unselfishness never seeks its own to the harm or disadvantage of others, or with the neglect of others. It often neglects its own for the sake of others; it prefers their welfare, satisfaction, and advantage to its own; and it ever prefers good of the community to its private advantage. It would not advance, aggrandize, enrich, or gratify itself at the cost and damage of the public.”

I interpret Drummond’s definition of unselfishness in many ways as being related to humility. It’s all about moving from a focus on yourself to concern about helping others. This is really a journey in life. How many of you have ever known a baby who came home from the hospital asking “How can I help around the house?” No, they’re screaming for what they want! Humans are naturally selfish beings. Being unselfish is a learned behavior.

My father modeled unselfishness for me when I was very young. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1924. Since World War I had ended and people thought that was the war to end all wars, the Navy didn’t think they needed as many officers at that time. As a result, my father was released after his senior cruise. In January 1925 he entered Harvard Business School with a major in finance and then headed to Wall Street to begin his career.

In 1940, when I was one year old, he was about to be made a vice president of National City Bank. Instead, he came home and said to my mother, “I quit my job today.”

My mother said, “To do what?”

“I rejoined the Navy.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me!”

My father responded, “Remember when we got married, I said that if the country ever got in trouble, I owed it something. Hitler is crazy and pretty soon the Japanese will be in this war.”

So my father went from being a potential bank vice president to a second lieutenant at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. When Pearl Harbor happened in December 1941, it looked like he was going to stay there because he was 40 years old with no naval experience. But that wasn’t my father’s style—so he called one of his classmates from the Academy who was a top person at the Bureau of Naval Personnel in Washington and said, “What do you have for an old fart with no experience? I’ve got to get in the action.”

His buddy said, “Let me see what I can find and I’ll get back to you.” A few days later he called my dad and said, “All I have for a guy with your experience is heading up a suicide group going into the Marshall Islands.”

My dad immediately said “You’ve got your man!” Of course, he didn’t tell my mother what his friend had said. He was given the command of twelve LCI (Landing Craft, Infantry) leading the first wave into the Marshall Islands. Well over half of his men were killed or wounded. I have a picture of me at five years old in a sailor suit saluting him as he got off the train, returning home after being away for more than two years.

All this to say my dad was the most unselfish person I have ever met. How about you? Who models or has modeled unselfishness for you in your life? Remember—just because we were all born selfish doesn’t mean we can’t master unselfish behavior as adults!

The Humility and Courtesy of Love

If you’ve been reading my blogs, you’ll know this is Part 3 of my series about the nine elements of love as written by Henry Drummond in his book The Greatest Thing in the World.

We are on the fourth element, which is Humility. Drummond wrote:

“Love as humility does not promote or call attention to itself, is not puffed up, is not bloated with self-conceit, and does not dwell upon its accomplishments. When you exhibit true love, you will find things to praise in others and will esteem others as you esteem yourself.”

When some people hear the word humility, they think of it as a weakness. Even Jim Collins, the author of From Good to Great, told his researchers to recheck the data when humility came up as the second trait of great leaders. He couldn’t believe that humility could be one of the top two traits! But I’ve always thought of humility as a strength. In fact, one of my favorite sayings was coined by Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Orange County, California:

“People with humility don’t think less of themselves, they just think about themselves less.”

If this statement applies to you, there is a good chance that you have what it takes to be an effective servant leader. Rather than spending your days doing things that benefit yourself, your loving spirit wants to serve others.

I learned this lesson early in life from my father, who retired as a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy. When I won the presidency of the seventh grade in junior high school, I came home all proud and told my dad that I had won. He said “Congratulations Ken—but now that you are president, don’t ever use your position. Great leaders are great not because they have power, but because people respect and trust them. Leadership is not about you, it’s about the people you’re serving.” Quite a lesson for 13-year-old kid!

Here’s what Drummond had to say about the fifth element of love, Courtesy:

“Love as courtesy is said to be love in little things. It behaves toward all people with goodwill. It seeks to promote the happiness of all.”

It’s all about being polite—holding a door for someone, saying thanks when someone does something nice for you, and the like.

In the Disney parks, their first value is safety, followed by courtesy—the friendly, helpful service you get from each cast member every time you visit one of their parks or hotels. It can be as simple as a smiling face or a “My pleasure”—whatever brings happiness to their guests.

So this week, remember to reach out in love with a humble heart and be a courteous and considerate person in all your interactions with people. You’ll be surprised how good it feels when you make somebody else feel good!

Defining Love, Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of my continuing discussion on love! The second element of love according to Henry Drummond is Kindness. In The Greatest Thing in the World, he writes:

 

“Love as kindness is active. Kindness seeks to be useful. It not only seizes on opportunities for doing good, but also searches for them.”

A lot of people are writing about kindness these days. God knows we need a kinder world where people search for opportunities to do good, rather than getting into win/lose battles about who’s right and who’s wrong. What a difference it would make if people were constantly looking for ways to do good. I’m sure many of you know this quotation that is generally credited to a Stephen Grellet, a French-born Quaker missionary:

“I expect to pass through this world but once; any good, therefore, that I can do, or any kindness I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”

That gets us back to the “precious present.” Be kind when? Now! Today!

Drummond’s third element of love is Generosity

“Love as generosity does not envy the good fortune or accomplishments of others. If we love our neighbors, we will be so far from envying them and what they possess or accomplish that we will share in and rejoice at these things. The prosperity of those to whom we wish well can never grieve us.”

Here we’re talking about generosity of spirit—showing no envy toward others. When most people hear the word generosity, they think you’re talking about giving away money. But in the Bible, before it mentions sharing your treasure, it talks about sharing your time and talent. In other words, if you are volunteering to help others, that shows a generosity of spirit.

In the book The Generosity Factor which I coauthored with the late S. Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A, we added a fourth aspect of generosity: touch. By touch, we meant reaching out to encourage others. Truett lived his life by the quotation “Who needs encouragement? Everyone!” Isn’t that the truth!

So today, with a spirit of kindness and generosity, look for opportunities to do good for others by sharing your time, talent, treasure, or touch. Life is not about being served, but serving others. That is love in action.

Defining Love, Part 1

Have you ever been to a wedding and heard someone read this message?

 

 

 

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

(1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

 

When people hear that passage at weddings, it puts a smile on their face.

Henry Drummond, a 19th century Scottish preacher, scientist, and author, wrote a wonderful little book entitled The Greatest Thing in the World. In it, he contends there are nine elements of love described in this “Love Passage” from the Bible. I’ll be sharing one or two of these elements in each of my next few blog posts. Why? Because we need more love in the world—and it can begin with each one of us, every day.

The late Richard Bolles, author of What Color is Your Parachute? used to ask people, “Would you like to make the world a better place?” Everyone, of course, would say, “Yes!” Then he would ask, “What’s your strategy?” and he would get blank looks.

Bolles’s theory went something like this: You can make the world a better place by the moment-to-moment decisions you make as you interact with other human beings. Suppose leaving your house in the morning someone yells at you. You have a choice: you can yell back, or you can go back in the house and give that person a hug and tell him or her, “I hope you have a great day!” Someone cuts you off on the highway. You have a choice: you can chase after that person and give them an obscene gesture or you can send them a prayer. It’s all up to you.

Given those choices, let’s look at Drummond’s first element of love—Patience: “Love as patience endures evil, injury, and provocation without being filled with resentment, indignation, or revenge. It will put up with many slights and neglects from the people it loves, and wait long to see the kindly effects of such patience.”

Sometimes you send out love to someone and get nothing in return. You send out more love and still get nothing back. But things don’t always happen when we want them to happen. Our timetable is not always the most important one. Realizing that, don’t be in a hurry! Be patient.

When I wrote The Power of Ethical Management with Norman Vincent Peale, he said there are two characteristics we need in life if we are going to make a difference: patience and persistence. When our patience runs out, we need to turn to persistence and keep on keeping on. When we get frustrated with our persistence not getting results, we need to return to patience. We have a cute little plaque in our summer cottage that says:

“May those who love us, love us. And those who don’t, may God turn their hearts. And if He doesn’t turn their hearts, may He turn their ankles so we’ll know them by their limping.”

Ha! That’s the ultimate patience and persistence! Today if you send out loving feelings toward someone and don’t get any positive reaction, don’t give up! Because love understands and, therefore, waits.

Next time I’ll talk about Drummond’s second and third elements of love: Kindness and Generosity. Hope you have a great week!

 

 

Creating a Gung Ho Culture

If you follow me on Twitter (@KenBlanchard) or Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/KenBlanchard/), you may have noticed that I recently posted about being in Cedar Falls, Iowa, to take part in a celebration at a company called Mudd Advertising. The company, which was founded by my friend Jim Mudd Sr. was celebrating 20 years of using the principles of Gung Ho!, a book I wrote in 1998 with Sheldon Bowles from Winnipeg, Canada. I met Sheldon through the Young President’s Organization (YPO) when I spoke at one of their big conferences.

Sheldon gave me a first draft of a manuscript entitled Raving Fans and said he wanted me to coauthor it with him. I was polite and said I would read it—but as we were going back to our room, Margie and I both wondered how good it could be. After all, Sheldon was the president of a company, not a writer. Little did we know that he had been a journalist when he was young and the draft was terrific. Do I need to say more? Raving Fans was a major bestseller!

Our follow-up book, Gung Ho!, was a response to people asking “How do we turn our employees into Raving Fans of the organization they work for?” Sheldon and I were told that a lot of organizations were trying to create Raving Fan service with tired, uninspired, and even resentful employees who, in many instances, hated to go to work. Wow! What a challenge.

So Sheldon talked to Native American leaders and developed three secrets to creating a Gung Ho culture: the Secret of the Squirrel; the Way of the Beaver; and the Gift of the Goose. These secrets became the basis of Sheldon’s and my second best-selling book, which for 20 years has been required reading for each new employee at Mudd Advertising and central to the way they operate.

When you enter Mudd’s corporate headquarters, one of the first things you see is a mural depicting the Gung Ho philosophy:

SPIRIT OF THE SQUIRREL: Worthwhile Work

  • Knowing we make the world a better place.
  • Everyone works toward a shared goal.
  • Values guide all plans, decisions, and actions.

WAY OF THE BEAVER: In Control of Achieving the Goal

  • A playing field with clearly marked territory.
  • Thoughts, feelings, needs, and dreams are respected, listened to, and acted upon.
  • Able but challenged.

GIFT OF THE GOOSE: Cheering Each Other On

  • Active or passive, congratulations must be TRUE (Timely, Responsive, Unconditional, and Enthusiastic).
  • No score, no game, and cheer the progress.
  • E = MC2—Enthusiasm equals mission times cash and congratulations

At The Ken Blanchard Companies, we’ve endeavored to create a Gung Ho culture by providing worthwhile work—our mission is that someday, everywhere, everyone will be impacted by someone leading at a higher level; by empowering our people to be in charge of achieving our goals in a way that creates Raving Fan customers; and finally, throughout the process, by cheering each other on and catching each other doing things right.

If you think your company would benefit from a Gung Ho culture, it probably would!