Nightingale goes on to say that wealth is a measure of the service we provide to others. He suggests that individuals earn big salaries and commissions because they provide exceptional value to their employers or their customers.
Whether you are a clerk in a retail store, a financial advisor, or an engineer selling the latest technology to the Space Agency, you will be recognized and rewarded for what you do for others. Maybe not immediately; but over time, the accumulation of your efforts, the problems solved, the kindnesses shown, the effort made to ‘go the extra mile’ will pay off.
When you serve others in a spirit of humility and gratitude, you build trust. You show you aren’t only looking out for yourself. You earn respect. Those who are liked, respected and trusted receive more referrals. They get more opportunities to help solve their customers’ bigger problems. They encounter fewer objections and when they make a recommendation, their customers generally follow it.
One could argue that the Wall Street bankers who profited in spite of or because of the economic meltdown did not fit the rule. And many greedy CEOs of large corporations are obvious examples of those acting contrary to Nightingale’s assertion. But, I think that his contention remains true for the bulk of the population. You get back in life what you first give. What goes around comes around.
In a world in which hubris, greed and celebrity stardom may be superficially honoured more than service to others, the end result isn’t very appealing. Civilization has advanced over thousands of years and prospered because of our willingness to help each other. In his book Influence, Robert Cialdini says:
The noted archaeologist Richard Leakey ascribes the essence of what makes us human to the reciprocity system. We are human because our ancestors learned to share their food and their skills in an honoured network of obligation.
Giving back, service to others, and reciprocity are values that are key to a successful life. Nightingale’s words, penned more than 50 years ago are still true today, and perhaps more important now then ever.