“If a true sense of value is to be yours, it must come through service.” Now talk about a cryptic statement. Leave it to a fortune cookie to have you scratching your head for months.
I received this phrase in a fortune cookie about two years ago. Nearing the end of my service to the Peace Corps I wondered what great things might be in store for me once my ‘service’ came to a close. I had lots of time to ponder that phrase and it’s meaning for me. What always stuck out to me were the words true sense of value. The phrase struck me then with its mysterious depth then and I’ve carried it around ever since contemplating the meaning of a true sense of value.
It finally came home to me after a night of networking and schmoozing at an event of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce. Many people were most obviously sales men and many were quite obviously looking to see where people were from before making attempt to reach out. Some of the people with scribbled in names and no companies looked downright deject holding their hors d’oeuvres on the sidelines. People had judged them to be of little value in this network fest and they did little to change the perception.
This perceived value was step one of my realization for I was on the borderline of being one of those people holding my hours d’oeuvres in the corner, not least because I have a serious soft spot for good food and the event featured some fantastic fare by some of Seattle’s best chefs. It was my second observation that I made that brought it home. When people asked what I do, I told them that I’d just come back from Panama. Then they would ask what I was doing and I would tell them about my Peace Corps service. And it was then that people would light up, the barrier that some had put up from swimming with the shark, so to say, was immediately put down. People stepped in, began to listen in earnest, to stop looking around at other name tags. It gave me confidence in what I had just returned from.
And it made me realize the meaning of the statement. True sense is the integrity of perception. People truly valued my experience because they understood that I had served others. It wasn’t a cursory or fleeting fascination, it was true admiration. I found myself feeling the same way when talking to a recently retired Navy man. I truly valued his service.
I feel if we are to increase the integrity of this world, we have to dedicate ourselves to creative service in the benefit of one another. I feel that is can help a person to deepen relationships with others and create lasting bonds, it leads to integrity and self-confidence and a true value that can neither be purchased no fabricated in any other manner. I am excited to see what this brave new world has in store for me and I am excited to continue serving others.