With a Servant’s Heart

“Instead of trying to recruit others to help me, I set out to figure out how to recruit myself to help others.”

My blogosphere friend Valeria Maltoni recently wrote a spectacular post about “strategic quitting.” You can find it here.

She details how she volunteered for a great Fastcompany reader’s networking group. After the initial blush of success and interest, things started to change and become something a bit different than the original vision or intention.

Her approach was to try to find a way to serve others in the group that would ultimately keep the group focused. This is contrarian to a standard of trying to coax, cajole, ‘lead’, or force the group towards the goal.

I am experiencing a similar challenge. I do some freelance design work for a fantastic art gallery located on the North Shore of Lake Superior here in Minnesota. Last Chance Gallery was started as a labor of love by the artist Tom Christiansen and his wife, Marcia Hyatt, about a year ago. (total disclosure: they are my in-laws).They showcase Tom’s bronze sculpture work, as well as the work of 25 other talented artists in various mediums, from paint to wood to acrylic.

When the decided to expand and start the gallery, they wanted to do two things:
1. Leverage the unique location of being in Lutsen, Minnesota – a bit whimsical, smaller, not so ‘urban’.
2. Not be like the many ‘gift shops’ along Highway 61 selling trinkets and low-quality imported “art”.

This is where I found the challenge when approaching them about writing a newsletter.  I wanted to give them all the marketing advice my experience, education, and personal biases had to offer!  Not the best approach, having people with such passion and expertise in art trying to ‘drink from a firehose’ way too much information and apply to their budding business.

I chose to listen to Marcia and Tom and let them work out what/where/how on the details of the writing and photo selection.

To say the least, this has been a great success for the gallery. Oh, and I am having a LOT of fun helping Tom and Marcia produce the newsletter every two months. By working through and with them, we create something far better than what could EVER be dictated.

I challenge you to find one area in your business or personal life where you are trying desperately to lead others.  Try instead to use your talents to help others.  You may just be surprised by how you are led…

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