How can you serve your way to greatness?

All of us need a vision for our lives, and even as we work to achieve the vision, we must surrender it to the power that is greater than we know. Starting today you can decide to have a life of significance by how you give of yourself to others.
January 2011 By Lauren Mc Comb
Oprah Winfrey

"Everyone has the power for greatness – not for fame but greatness, because greatness is determined by service." Even before I first heard my all-time favourite quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I knew in my heart that the message was true. As far back as I can recall my prayer has been the same: “Use me, God. Show me how to take who I am, who I want to be and what I can do, and use it for a purpose greater than myself.”

All of us need a vision for our lives, and even as we work to achieve the vision, we must surrender it to the power that is greater than we know. It’s one of the defining principles of my life that I love to share: God can dream a bigger dream for you than you could ever dream for yourself. Before I understood that, I used to dream of having a salary to match my age - at 22, when I was earning $22,000 a year, I remember thinking that if I could just keep it up, I’d be making $40,000 by age 40. But the universe had a bigger dream for me, as it does for everyone reading these words. Success comes when you surrender to that dream - and let it lead you to the next best place.

What I know for sure is that if you want to have success, you can’t make success your goal. As my friend Wintley Phipps, the gospel singer and minister, once told me, the key is not to worry about being successful but to instead work towards being significant – and the success will naturally follow. How can you serve your way to greatness? When you shift your focus from success to service, your work as a teacher, clerk, doctor or entrepreneur will instantly have more meaning.

We live in a world that confuses financial prosperity with success, money with the real deal of having a joy-filled life. By the late eighties I had achieved fame, notoriety Emmys, money and houses with lots of things to put in them. I was prosperous, and yet a burning question nagged at me: What does all this mean? I’ve learnt that possessions only have the meaning you give them. All my life, I’d been passing others’ big homes and yachts while wondering, what kind of person do you have to be to have all of that? Now I know that if you’ll just be yourself and follow your calling, success will lay itself before you in ways you never imagined. That doesn’t mean we’re all going to be yachting around the world. Real success means creating a life of meaning through service that fulfils your reason for being here.

Starting today you can decide to have a life of significance by how you give of yourself to others. In his book The Soul’s Code, James Hillman says that the way to true success is to honour your calling. Have the courage to follow your passion - and if you don’t know what it is, realise that one reason for your existence on earth is to find it. It won’t come to you through some special announcement or through a burning bush. Your life’s work is to find your life’s work - and then to exercise the discipline, tenacity and hard work it takes to pursue it.

How do you know whether you’re on the right path, with the right person or in the right job? The same way you know when you’re not: You feel it. Each of us has a personal call to greatness and because yours is as unique to you as your fingerprint, no one can tell you what it is.

Ignoring your passion is like dying a slow death. Your life is speaking to you every day, all the time - and your job is to listen up and find the clues. Passion whispers to you through your feelings, beckoning you towards your highest good. Pay attention to what makes you feel energised, connected, stimulated - what gives you your juice. Do what you love, give it back in the form of service, and you will do more than succeed.

You will triumph.

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