The 365 Commitment

Desire to Be First

“If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.” – Mark 9:35

I realize that as I write this that many people are not religious and also not a “Christian.” So I run the risk of alienating people by quoting a scripture. However, bear with me for one second here before you dismiss this as religious dogma. There are some really powerful teachings attributed to Jesus Christ. There are reasons why his teachings and his followers spread all over the globe and there are reasons why the Bible remains the most popular book in history. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone has over 100M copies sold, truly amazing. However that pales in comparison to the Bible. There are well over 400M sold each year, not counting the ones that are given away. Just for context, if you were to collect all the Bibles in the world you would get to well over 5Billion copies. The next close book in print is probably the Quran, Quotations from Mao Zedong,  then the Book of Mormon. However, all of those are under 1B copies still. So needless to say, the Bible is a book that is on a lot of book shelves.

So perhaps that physical evidence of the Bible’s popularity will be enough to suspend our fear of religion for just a moment to ponder this extremely powerful principle. We can apply this to many aspects of our lives, including our business careers. We live in a world where everyone is jockeying for position. Your colleagues, friends, associates all secretly want to be your boss. They want the glory, the money, the praise, all of that. Now, I know there is one of you out there that does not think this way. There is one of you that is perfectly ok with where they are at and are happy to just be in a supporting cast member role. So if you are that one, awesome, I am glad that you are so Zen. I envy you, truly I do.

However, the rest of us in the business world are all hustling and bustling and fighting for position. We all smile and pat each other on the back all secretly jockeying to be the best and to be the first. We all desire to be the first. To be the best. This is not an attack, this is a recognition that this is a very human trait. It is so human that it is one of the primary motivators of our species. I daresay, it is the principle reason for our survival and proliferation. Flip side, it is the reason for our demise, destruction and wars as well. This is the reason why companies succeed and why companies fail. It is why people are incredibly successful and build space ships with their money. We all want to be first, we all want to be the best (except of course, for you, because you are the one that is not motivated this way).

So buried in the text of the Bible is this concept. If you desire to be first (which most of us do), then there is a formula to follow. If you want to be first, then you must seek to be last of all, and to serve others. You are not going to be first by putting yourself in front of everyone, you are going to be first by putting yourself behind everyone. When you help others, serve them, assist them, help them grow then you build intense loyalty. That is the one person that we will all rally behind. We will elevate that person above others, because they helped us. They sacrificed self interest and promotion for the betterment of the group politic. These are the people that change lives, shake the foundation of our society, cause movements that happen for centuries and usually get assassinated in some way. They are the real threat to established structures.

In a world where everyone wants you to “look at me,” there is a rare breed of human who recognizes the truth of Jesus’ teaching. If you really want to be heard, then you must first serve. If you want to change society, then you must first change yourself. If you want to sell something awesome, then you need to first be awesome. Try this on for size, start doing something to help those around you with no expectation for return. Help get others promoted, help others close a deal. Teach with no expectation of reciprocation. Give to the world and lift from the bottom instead of trying to pull from the top. Stop preaching what we “all should do” and start doing what you think we all should and get that right first. You do that well enough, and people will listen. You will become first.


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