“What are you in service to?” This is one of the most important questions I’ve been asked. I was taken aback the first time I heard it. “I do my job, right?” Nope. That’s not what it means. What are you (ultimately) in service to? Bigger picture. As in, what’s the change you want to instigate in the world? How will your contribution make things better?
I’m in service to enabling healthy societies that serve the needs of people in sustainable ways. My area of expertise — where I can contribute to making this vision real — is crafting information environments. Every year, more of our social interactions move from physical environments (such as buildings) to information environments (such as websites, apps, and other such digital systems.) I help design these things so they create contexts that serve human needs. This is what I do, but not why I do it. I do it because ultimately I’m in service to well-functioning societies.
My “in service to” statement motivates me. I want my children to have rich, long, fulfilling lives. For the world to be better for them, it needs to be better for everyone. The work I do can help move us in that direction. But the direction must be clear if we’re to move towards it. (As the Lewis Carroll wrote, “If you don’t know where you are going any road can take you there.”) I’m lucky to have found what I’m in service to, and aligned my skills towards it. It gives my work purpose and meaning — essential for going the distance, especially when things get tough.
What about you? What are you in service to?