Self-Investment Comes At A Cost


When you’re completely invested in doing your best for the people you serve, you’re going to be tremendously effective. You’ll feel it each and every day too, because those who receive your help will know your assistance is coming from the heart. They’ll express their gratitude for your help, and you’ll begin to interact with each other in more meaningful ways.

But there’s a cost.

Pouring yourself into your work with such intensity means at the end of the day you’ll empty your tank. You’ll find yourself mentally exhausted because you were mentally engaged. Sometimes, you’ll be emotionally exhausted too, because working with people isn’t only a cerebral workout. Yes, when you’re dialed in, you’re emotionally, mentally and physically engaged. When you end each day asking yourself, “Is there anything else I could have done today to be of more help?”, you can’t help but get better at whatever it is you do.

Now if you look around you, you’ll see people who aren’t invested in the people they deal with. The signs are clearly evident. When the phone rings they hesitate before answering and decide whether they want to pick it up. 10 minutes before quitting time, they are packed up, coat on, computer shut down, and ready to head out the door. I’m betting you’re thinking of someone now who fits this description, because frankly, these types are everywhere, and they are often long-term employees too. Ironically, they aren’t in the same kind of danger as the best of the best, because they aren’t as emotionally and mentally engaged. Hence, they are protected from the emotional, physical and mental toll I’m talking about.

But there’s great news.

When you really get invested in doing your best for those you interact with and serve, something amazing happens to the size of your ‘tank’. The more you give, the bigger it gets! When you give of yourself, listening attentively to someone pour out their troubles, demonstrate compassion, empathy and provide supportive counsel, you not only benefit them, you benefit yourself. It’s like a hug quite frankly, you can’t give one without getting one.

So it follows then that the ones who are truly invested emotionally, physically and mentally in providing superior customer service are the ones that seemingly have this tremendous capacity which carries them well beyond what others see as their limits. If you’ve ever witnessed one of these people, you’ve likely thought, “Where does she get the energy?!”

The energy comes in the reciprocal emotional and mental investment the people being served return. They express their gratitude with sincerity and the small or great changes they make in their thoughts and actions provide evidence that they found your intervention meaningful and impactful. You’ve found a way to connect with them that others haven’t; you’ve touched them in ways that sent the message, “I genuinely care about you and the goals you’re working towards. I will help.”

And make no mistake it’s not, “I want to help”, it’s “I will help.” Oh it’s such a subtle change in words with a completely impactful and different message. Wanting to do something is not the same as doing something. Wanting to help isn’t the same as helping. And you know what? These people you serve and interact with are smart enough to hear the difference in your words from the words of others.

Now many who don’t do the work you do will often wonder if working with people all day long doesn’t actually bring you down. Hearing all these sad stories; all these problems they present with. It’s got to be troubling. Ah but you and I know differently. It’s precisely because people in dire circumstances turn to you first when they need an understanding and supportive ear that you are humbled by that trust. It is a privilege to do what you do and do it to the best of your ability.

This knowledge, this investment in the people we work with feeds our energy, allowing us to work with enthusiasm. And there are amazing people doing outstanding work everywhere. They’re in my workplace and in yours and right now you’re already calling people to mind who fit this description. There’s a cost of course, and it’s a fee the invested pay as they go about their day and are glad to have the opportunity.

There isn’t a job on the planet that doesn’t directly or indirectly impact on customers, clients, residents, end-users; call them what you will. When you ask someone who they work for, the best of the best never name an employer; that’s who they are employed by. The real invested ones work for those they serve. They recognize that their ‘customers’ are not just their end-users or consumers, but include their co-workers, their support staff, the people who benefit from the work that they do either lower or higher on the organizational chart.

The thing about the really good folks is that they do their work, they go about their day often in full knowledge that their peers don’t see all the extensive good work they do – and their okay with that. Their reward doesn’t come from formal recognition – although that’s always welcomed – the vitally important rewards come in small but sincere expressions of thanks and gratitude.

So carry on good people out there. You know who you are. And Dave, Mike, Vikki, Stephen, Dale, Gayle and Martin…well done.