overcoming the service metric trap

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OvercomingTheServiceMetricTrapLately I’ve been sharing a little bit about my journey to devote 2013 to service.

And as a quick recap, I’ll quickly share that I started the year off by tracking the number of people that I served each day, rather than income as an indicator of success. Though the tracking system was inevitably flawed and inaccurate, it helped me shift my focus to service, rather than revenue.

I had a gut feeling that by focusing on service, not cash flow, abundance would naturally follow. I had a hunch that the income I need to earn for my portion of family contribution – plus more – would come naturally as a result of a service focus (much like Mastin did in the second video here).

And for a few months, my attention to serving really transformed my life.

It felt wonderful to come from a place of “How can I serve today?” rather than, “How can I grow my business by 30% this year?”

But over time, I started to get so caught up in the act of helping “more” people that I started to place my own intrinsic worth on the service tracking numbers.

I became more and more desperate to help everyone and anyone in any way that I could, often at the expense of my own wellbeing.

Which is a recipe for failure. You gotta put that proverbial airplane air mask on yourself before you help others.

I ended up taking some time off from the online world to reconnect with myself internally.

While this break did help me quite a bit, I eventually realized this frenzied focus on “doing” good works was not much better than my previous focus on what I wanted to “have.”

So, with some reservations, I resigned myself to the fact that I simply needed to focus on how I came to each situation. As long as I could “be” in each moment with a heart to help people, that is enough.

Though this is often seen as one of the highest spiritual states to achieve – a focus on simply “being” – I didn’t personally feel quite there yet.

For a few recent weeks I’ve felt a little bit like a mouse who ran around a maze hitting dead end (“having” what I want will lead to peace and joy) after dead end (“doing” what I can to help other will lead to peace and joy).

I finally felt like a little furry creature tired of running around the maze. So I stopped and sat with my chin propped in my hand.


While the perfectionist part of me in the past would have loved to try to “strive” to get to that highest level of success, to “be,” as soon as possible; the wiser, more relaxed part of me knows that I’m not completely there just yet.

In the meantime, I talked with my “massage therapist” turned actual “therapist.” I shared how this whole year has led me to so many new lessons and insights, but ultimately, the burn out from the service metrics left me feeling kinda numb to helping others.

Part of me was scared that if I derived some sort of satisfaction from it, it could be a slippery slope back to validating my worth based on my actions.

So though I continued helping people everyday, I didn’t truly feel any sense of self-worth hinging on it (which is a good thing) nor a positive satisfaction from helping others (not so great).

I was just kinda drifting.

In our session yesterday, she helped me find a new way to look at serving that helped immensely.

Spiritually, I believe that everyone is connected to one another. That we are all just parts or pieces of the same Big Thing (the Universe, Love, God, etc.).

With this connection to the universal in mind, helping one person is the same as helping Everyone. Helping 12 people is the same as helping Everyone. Helping two million people is the same as helping Everyone.

Therefore, helping one person – or two million – is the same as helping Everyone.

Scale, or service tracking, becomes largely irrelevant with this truth is understood.

One person is not better than another for helping a larger number of people.

They are both ultimately doing the same thing. They are helping Everyone.

Which means that little ego part of me that still likes to value scale and metrics to indicate growth and “goodness” is missing the deeper truth.

Seeing the world in this new light allows me to now appreciate serving, without striving for an ever-growing mountain of good deeds.

If this approach leads to a greater impact and helping more people, wonderful. If it keeps me at a similar level to where I am now, wonderful.

It’s not necessarily up to me to reach for a larger circle of influence. That may come or it may not naturally out of this new state of being.

Most importantly, I’ll only be able to find peace and joy when I divorce my own self-worth from that equation and focus on my intention and acceptance in each moment as it comes.

Do I still rely on this new state to provide the income needed for my family to meet it’s financial obligations?


Do I still want to go out in the world and “do” good things?


Can I go about helping others and receiving abundance without validating my own self-worth based on those actions?




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  1. It’s the “ripple effect” thing! I have to remind myself of that when I’m worrying too much about financial goals or number of client goals. But I agree that number goals can often backfire and lead to too much stress and burn out. Experiencing that now with income goals, so now it’s back to the “ripple effect” type goals!

  2. Lamisha

    I love this idea. What if we could all do the stuff we love in our careers the same way we do them in our personal lives? Just for the joy it brings us. I truly believe that if we just go with the flow and enjoy our lives and our work that everything else will fall into place.

  3. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

    The perfectionist is me keeps counting the ‘parts’… and you’re right — everyone is connected. As I transition from my full-time corporate gig to my own business, I keep having to remind myself of just this.

    As selfish as this sounds, I’m glad to know I’m not the only one struggling with the self-worth part of the equation!

    1. I love that point and how you bring it to this topic: the whole is greater than the sum of the parts…. that’s a really awesome way to look at this struggle.

      (And hey, I’m glad I’M not the only one struggling with this, too!)

  4. I totally believe in the ripple effect. I’ve always thought that one smile can change the world because maybe the person that saw the smiles starts to smile and so on. I hadn’t yet thought of it when it comes to my business and could definitely see myself getting caught up in wanting to have more and more clients and/or finding ways to reach the greatest number of people and risk sacrificing things I’m not sure I’m willing to sacrifice (time and boundaries).

    As I start to build my coaching business, I’ll remind myself that it’s not a quantity thing. It’s a quality thing, something I so believe in. Thanks for sharing, Jess.

    1. You are most welcome, I’m happy to know this may help your own business journey as well. : )

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