As we think about service or servant leadership, we can go deeper to consider, What is ‘service without attachment’? It can be helpful to relate this concept to our personal experiences, especially when we think of love or serving without attachment inside any relationship. True, powerful leadership steeped in service includes serving others with pure heart and giving, regardless of what the response is and what result may come of it.
It is easy to tell when we are acting out of a place of whole-hearted love and service and when we are acting out of a place of attachment. When we offer love and service simply because we want to serve others and the focus is on their happiness, we are not attached to how the person receives our gift or how they respond. But, when we offer love and service from a place that is meant to serve our own needs, we might notice we feel anxious, jealous or even controlling when we do not get the response we are seeking. Could serving without attachment be a predictor for a successful relationship?
We treat people a certain way because “normally” we think of ourselves, our needs, our well being first, and when things don’t go as expected we tend to get hurt, frustrated and even resentful. Imagine if these acts of love and service were NOT about us, then we are not going to feel any of this negativity if we don’t see the results expected outside of the gift itself. I am reminded of the times when I gave freely of myself knowing nothing was expected and the internal peace I felt. I can also remember times where the agenda behind the service was conflicting with true service, creating incongruence and mixed messages.
Reflection Opportunity: Are we kind and considerate because we want something in return? Do we expect evenness in terms of love or service back from others? What if others’ happiness and freedom were just as important as yours? What happens when we put the focus on truly helping and serving others? Is it an experience that uplifts or drains our energy?
Experiment: For seven days, make a commitment. When interacting with others, notice where your mind is. Are you focused on what they are saying while also thinking about how to insert your own needs into the conversation? Or are you actively listening and taking in what the other person is saying, focusing instead on where they are coming from and what their needs might be?
Of course, we need to respect our needs as much as we respect others’, but the point of this exercise is to notice just how much we are concentrated on our own needs first. How much room do we provide for others’ needs to be met? Is there room for improvement?
It’s up to each of us to create non-attachment in our relationships in order to be of greater service. Use this fresh and peaceful approach to see the difference in you and your most precious relationships. In fact, when we revisit the needs for men and women, we realize we can significantly serve our partner or spouse to positively affect their needs just by giving of ourselves—without attachment. Will they do the same for us? Of course they MAY, but only if they wish to. But, it can not be expected in return, because this would be a contradiction to the notion of ‘service without attachment‘.
Have fun with this and see how you feel after practicing for a week or so. Please share your thoughts and experience in the comments below.