You’re Gonna Have to Serve Someone

You may be an ambassador to England or France
You may like to gamble, you might like to dance
You may be the heavyweight champion of the world
You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.

Bob Dylan wrote this song as a born again Christian suggesting that no matter who you are, you’re gonna have to serve someone.

In response to ‘Gotta Serve Somebody’, John Lennon wrote and recorded the song ‘Serve Yourself’, which was a parody that mocked the injection of religion into Dylan’s songwriting.

I think they were both wrong. The question is much less about who you’re going to serve and much more about what are you going to serve.

Consider that your role is not to serve someone but instead to serve something, that something being the relationship. Take people, including yourself, out of the equation. It’s not about what someone wants it’s about what the relationship needs.

You’re gonna have to serve something, not someone.

It’s taken me a long, long time to discover this, often leaving a path of destruction in my wake. But I’m no longer here to serve someone, including myself, I am here to serve the relationship, every relationship.

But how do we serve relationships?

All relationships whether with business partners, lovers, co-workers, friends or family need five things. Trust, stimulation, nurturing, space and time.

Trust is not about ‘are you going to cheat on me?’ It’s about; ‘do you have my back?’

Building trust as part of servicing a relationship is far easier than trying to convince an individual to trust you because it’s about actions rather than words. I believe half of what you say and everything that you do.

There’s nothing sexier than trusting your partner has your back. There’s nothing more strengthening in a customer relationship than unconditional trust. Want to destroy the competition? Focus on servicing the trust with your business partners and employees. It’s in fact really simple to execute; do what you say you are going to do every time.

Stimulation is newness. At Kira we stimulate our customer relationships with quarterly newsworthy product releases, with hand written thank you cards and unexpected gifts at unexpected times. We aren’t focused on the individuals we are focused on value in the relationship and that requires consistent stimulation.

Nurturing is understanding that our role is to grow the relationship. Relationships that don’t grow die. Nurturing is not about the other person, it’s about “what actions can I take to grow and strengthen this relationship?” taking the individual out of it. When we come at it from the angle of nurturing, we take a different approach. So yes, you may be taking an action that feels like you are doing something for someone, like making dinner AND cleaning up, but when you think about the action as service to the relationship it’s a dramatic and important shift.

Nothing says I care more than ‘I’m focused on the relationship, not you’. We are creatures of meaning, we need to feel appreciated and the funny thing is we feel we matter more when someone focuses on the relationship versus us as an individual.

Time is the easiest yet the hardest one to execute on. When are you going to admit you don’t give your relationships the required time? We spend more time planning vacations than our relationships, we spend more time on company sales strategy than company relationship strategy. We are so focused on being busy we forget to make time to think about how we want our relationships to be.

When you come at it from the point of view of serving someone the pressure is intense. “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown” – Henry IV could not sleep due to all the stress.

Along with the stress of trying to serve someone, it can also create resentment. But when you come at it from the angle of serving the relationship a great weight is lifted.

In the end it’s about surrendering versus submitting.

Here’s Bob performing Gotta Serve Somebody at the 22nd Annual Grammy Awards