Permission to NOT be of service

I had a cathartic conversation today with a coach/therapist-colleague, and something in particular created a wave of release, something that i hadn’t had anyone say to me before.

She said that it can be hard, especially for women, to admit to themselves that they want to do something FOR themselves, rather than nurture someone else / serve others. And i don’t mean just allowing themselves to have bath or go for a massage, I mean putting their happiness/vitality/’self’ at the heart of what they do in life, including career.

In the self-growth/spirituality world, there is a lot of talk about being of service, of helping others, perhaps nurturing others’ talents or healing etc. Purpose is very often linked to helping others. Even watching Oprah’s life class the other night they were talking about taking the lessons from painful episodes in life and using them to help others.

I’m on board with that. I mentor women on all kinds of areas using what i’ve learnt, and share some of the tools i’ve picked up along the way to help others. I genuinely love loaning to microfinance projects and promoting solution-based projects that help empower women overseas. I love to spread love-based messages and relate to others in a very human, intimate way. I appreciate life, nature, and feel connected to humanity at large.

AND YET

When it comes to the main drive in life, in my heart of hearts, perhaps being of service is not my main driver. And when i consider fellas, for many of them it isn’t either. I’m not talking about the ones who perhaps feel that their life lacks meaning, who work shallow jobs just for the money, i’m talking about the guys who follow their passions (whatever they may be – motorbikes, basketball, cooking) and don’t need it to be ‘of service’. They just love what they do. If what they do provides benefit to others (eg inspires fans, feeds people etc) then it’s almost a by-product; the main goal is to be the best sports player or create dishes that have never been made before.

Whilst spiritual guides often say that universally our main purpose that will bring the most satisfaction is to be in the service of others, i don’t know if it IS universal. And controversially, it can be okay to have a purpose that may be more about facilitating and stoking your own talent rather than those of others.

In the convo with my friend, it kind of came down to this: would you rather be the tennis player or the tennis coach? If you’re the player, you have to focus on your own talent. If you’re the coach, then of course your work is serving the player. Neither of these roles are better than the other. The coach needs someone with talent to serve, otherwise they can’t fulfil their purpose of serving/helping the player. Likewise the player needs someone to help them develop their talent. So they need eachother – it’s just the coach is more obviously serving, and the player is providing an arena for the coach to do that. We can’t all be the coaches or servers, some of us have to be the ones being ‘served’/nurtured.


It’s funny, at the beginning of this week i was helping out at a workshop which aims to uncover people’s values, talents, dreams etc. Many of them work jobs they either don’t find fulfilling, or jobs that aren’t in line with their values.

After one exercise i overheard a small group of women talking about what their values/dreams were, and it was really juicy. check it:

One woman said how she felt like maybe the noble thing would be to say, she wants to help others or go volunteer or set up a social enterprise. But actually her desires are just desires for her. Like, i think she wanted to study history of art and travel. And she was giggling with the other women in her group about this. And i smiled too, in empathy and shared relief – that yes, it’s okay to not want to be a crusader. That maybe there is a hidden taboo (esp for women) – that it might still slightly be perceived as less ‘worthy’ or ‘right’ to want to do stuff just becuz you want to, becuz it fills you up, rather than be purposefully ‘changing the world’ or trying to make the world a better place.

In the career change field that i work in, there is a lot of content out there that talks about ‘meaningful work’ being about eg working for a not-for-profit, becoming some kind of wellness facilitator, setting up a social enterprise etc. Some content even encourages people to find or give a service to the work they do, to make it fulfilling, such as being a hairdresser in order to make customers happy (rather than do it because you love cutting hair!) or sharing your experiences in writing in order to elevate/transform others (rather than because you just love doing it and need to do it for yourself).

For some people, doing things purely for-the-pleasure-of is ENOUGH. For some people, having a service-based purpose can feel like something they ‘should’ do, like a chore, and that’s not going to be sustainable. I’ve worked in many worthy organisations and done things in alignment with a bigger purpose to serve others, but it very often hasn’t been enough to sustain me. Putting aside the more obvious service-based work, this also extends to things like starting a business. It’s something I have dabbled in, and know that generally speaking, you’re in the business to serve customers – that’s the point of your work, where your energy should be directed, ultimately, towards. Yet what if you genuinely don’t have a burning fire inside that wants to be customer-focused? Whilst that lack of interest may hamper your progress in business, does a disinclination to wanting to be focused on who you are serving make you a ‘bad’ person?

So i want to acknowledge and give some space to women like me, who hope on one level to be contributing to the world and to others (via our families/friends, an interest group, charity contributions etc), but also on another level need to contribute to themselves. Who want to fly a plane ‘just because i can’, rather than to serve… passengers. Who want to be in the winning hockey team ‘because it kicks ass’ rather than to serve… whoever hockey players serve. i guess they serve hockey-stick manufacturers. anyway.

For some of us, having ‘being of service’ as THE core thing we do in a professional capacity may not be quite right. Again, I wanna re-iterate that this does not mean being completely self-obsessed and not contributing as you move through life – it could just mean that you consciously, knowingly contribute and focus on serving others in other ways – such as through interactions with loved ones, random acts of kindness, charity donations, promoting a healthy lifestyle etc.

I don’t know if most sports professionals have ‘being of service’ as their core driver
I don’t know if frieda kahlo was making her art to be of service
I don’t know if top chefs do food experiments out of a drive to be of service
And isn’t that okay?

I think we should have permission to do what we love out of love for it, not necessarily focusing on the service part. For some people yes, it’s absolutely true for them that a service-mentality towards others is bliss & must be weaved through all that they do. But I think there should be an allowance and acknowledgement that for some, having a purpose aligned with pure joy for doing what they do (rather than aligned with serving) and stoking their own talent/curiosity/fire is also totally okay, and as equally valid.

If this rings true for you, I hope you can move forward without judgement (either from others or yourself) to nurture your talents and joy. If you’re not sure, then get honest with yourself. People who genuinely have a calling to be of service vocationally are in their element when they’re doing it, there’s no question. My mother, for example, is like that – she loves to feel needed and do things for others. Yet if you do things for others / out of service because you feel you ‘should’, and you don’t enjoy it or feel begrudgingly about it, then just be honest with yourself and accept that. It’s okay. O-kazay.

Love to the servers and the served

S xo

Unique

As some of you may or may not know, I have been taking classes in a dance style called ‘waacking’. It’s a freestyle dance, where you learn a range of different moves then can put them all together however you like depending on the song you’re dancing to, how you feel.

Some people are really good at particular moves, more than others. For example, there are some people in my class who are flexible and can do high kicks or the splits. Then there are some who can do really fast arm moves. Then there are others who are more natural at footwork and grooving.

Rather than being a room full of people all trying to do the same thing perfectly, in a waacking class there’s a range of people who each can do certain things really great, and other elements not so great.

My teacher was talking to me about how I should use my height and long limbs to my advantage. Rather than try to move like someone else or try to do things that I’m not so naturally suited to, to polish up and make the most of what I DO have. To make bold strong moves that take up space, that have presence. That could be ‘my thing’.


This got me thinking about struggle, ease, and making the most of what you got, in any area of life.

Sometimes we make things difficult for ourselves, and don’t see the best way to make the most of what we have.

Rather than focus on building up what makes us unique, and using that to our advantage, to be ‘our thing’, it can be so easy to try be like someone else. To worry that we’re not ‘doing it right’ (whatever that means), that if we do something ‘our way’ it’s not going to be ‘good enough’.

It’s important to try new things and incorporate a range of elements into your ‘style’ so you grow, but there’s also something to be said for knowing your strengths and advantages that you have over ‘the competition’. Polishing what you inherently have, rather than trying really hard to be more like someone else.

This week, I encourage you to consider what YOU uniquely can bring. What are your effortless, go-to strengths that others don’t have (that maybe they wish they did have)? Can you focus more on them, use them, work on them so they rise up to be SUPERPOWERS?! How can you STAND OUT more?

Be brave, you got it in you!

Get Your Hands on ‘What The Stuck?!’

‘What The Stuck?!’ is an emotional unblocking workbook you can use on any area of your life that you feel ‘stuck’. It takes you through a process of reframing your perceiptions, letting go of stale habits and freeing up space for the new n fabulous! Grab your free copy by signing up with my new mailing list provider, Mailchimp, HERE.

Rockin it,

S xo

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Putting Yourself Out There

Happy Valentine’s! Whether you are in a relationship or single, I encourage you to carve out a little space for some self-love and appreciation for wanting more autonomy and empowerment over your finances and personal growth!

Since my last post for you, the Money Rockstar site has had a facelift AND I have an article published over at MindBodyGreen! It’s about being responsible for your own gifts and talents, which is super relevant to self-worth, so if you haven’t checked the article out yet please do, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. It ties in very neatly with this weeks topic:

Putting Yourself Out There

When you can stand in your own value, it is much easier to market yourself – whether that’s in the form of a job application or resume, submitting to be a guest writer or speaker, or promoting your business.

Knowing and standing in your own value and worth is the bedrock for being able to spot and apply for opportunities, approach collaborators, potential clients or employers, and also helps to clear out any BS about what you will or won’t do! Once we know what we truly rock at, what our innate gifts are, and begin to shine the spotlight on them, we are less likely to go for jobs or clients that won’t make the best use of our talents.

And as we shine light on our talents we begin to appreciate them more, which in turn boosts our self-esteem and sense of self-value. And from there it is a LOT easier to put yourself out there.

What areas of expertise do you have? Are you sharing them with the world effectively? When you look for clients or employers, do you focus more on what they can give you, or what you can bring to them? When I focus on how important my message and advice is, it makes it far easier for me to reach out to others to share my services.

Your homework for this week!

1. No matter what your current employment status (out of work, full-time employed, freelance, business-owner etc), check back in with yourself. What are your core innate skills and talents? What do you do best? What message do you want to share with the world? What knowledge do you have that others may want to know? What skills do you rock at that you should focus on, while delegating or ‘stop doing’ the things you’re not a natural at?

2. What small steps can you take this week to share your unique self with the world, and put yourself out there? Who would benefit from your skills and knowledge, and how can you reach them?

Refocusing back to your core gifts, and valuing what they can provide for others, should help fire you up to make those calls, submissions, videos, adverts!

And when we start putting ourselves out there, we start getting opportunities and new sources of income whilst boosting our self-esteem. This is a crucial part of financial empowerment.

Be honest with yourself about the questions above then take action!

One-on-One Coaching

I am opening up spaces for ongoing coaching at a flat rate of £50 for 40 minutes. Coaching sessions take place via Skype each Thursday. I have 5 spaces available – if you feel I can help you please get in touch directly at s_l_byrne@hotmail.com and I’ll send you through an intake form.

Have a great week!

Rockin it,

S xo

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