There are about 10,000 jokes about trekking around the world and finally reaching the top of a mountain, where you ask, “What is the meaning of life?”
Let me try to answer that question for you, even if I only work on the side of a mountain (above a bar).
For me, it comes down to three things. Three things that can elevate your life, career and company.
Be self aware: Reflect. Write. Publish your ideas and listen carefully to the responses you get.
Have regular conversations with a mentor or friend.
Solicit feedback from people who work for you, and from those for whom you work. Observe your behavior and the ways that people react to you.
Be quiet often enough that you leave room to understand how you are moving through your life. Be quiet long enough that you understand what you really want before it is too late to get it.
Serve others: Here’s a giant, massive, staggeringly large free tip: to navigate the path to what you want, you must serve others.
Our world is too complex to go it alone.
The only way to build strong and lasting relationships is to be there for others. There is no way to do this by simply waiting for other people to be there for you.
For those of you who are tit-for-tat obsessed and worried that you will give more than you get, let me say this: you will give more than you get.
Yes, to have an amazing and beautiful life, to create anything of value—a company, cause, or lasting achievement—you must give more than you get.
However… in return for serving others, magnificent things will happen when you least expect it. New clients will find you, instead of the other way around. A act of stunning generosity will touch your soul. Someone you love will be saved, or propelled to new heights. Doors will open, as if by magic.
Serve because it gives you joy to serve. But also serve because service brings self-awareness, too.
Reach higher: Do not settle for an average or easy life. Never rest on your laurels or accept “pretty good”. Safe does not equal meaningful.
And—this is hugely important—surround yourself with people who are also reaching higher.
But what does it mean to reach higher?
Does it mean get an award, win praise, beat the competition, blow your own horn?
In my mind, it means have a much greater impact than you once thought possible.
Be fully alive. Inspire others through your actions. Feel in your heart and soul what it means to be alive. Minimize suffering. Live with compassion. Pay attention to the miracles around you, and make a few of your own.
Never stop learning, and never stop growing.
Do these three things whether you are just finishing high school or leading the world’s largest company. Follow these principles if you work in the customer service department of a bank or if you are the manager of a band.
You can make it more complicated than this, but I doubt you can make it simpler than this.
By Bruce Kasanoff, / This article was originally posted on Forbes.com