Story from the book “Credibility”
Once there was a village in Nigeria where the people made their living by farming. The village lay in a large green valley that was lined with palm trees and bushes. Surrounding the village were fields with crops of yams, corn and other vegetables. Just beyond the fields was a deep river that the villagers called “Baba.” In the rainy season, the river overflowed and the people were fearful of its power. So, at a place were the river wound beyond the fields, they built a strong dam to hold back the water.
There was a man in the village named Modupe, which means “I am grateful.” Modupe was a shy, quiet man whose wife had died and whose children were all married, so he moved to the top of the mountain overlooking the valley and lived alone. There he built a small hut and cleared a small piece of land to grow his vegetables. The people rarely saw Modupe but they respected and loved him.
One year at harvest time, the rains were unusually heavy, but the crops had done well and there was much to do, so no one paid it any mind. As Modupe stood by his house on the mountain, he noticed that the river, swollen from the rains, was straining the dam. He knew that by the time he could run down to the village to warn the people of the flood, it would be too late and all would be lost. Even as Modupe watched, the wall of the dam begun to break and water started to seep through.
Modupe thought of his friends in the village. Their crops, their homes, and their very lives were in danger if he did not find a way to warn them. Then an idea came to him: he rushed to his small hut and set it afire. When the people of the valley saw Modupe’s house burning they said, “Our friend is in trouble. Let’s sound the alarm and go up to help him.” Then, according to custom, men, women, and children ran up the mountain to see what they could do. When the reached the top of the hill, they did not have time to ask what had happened – a loud crashing noise behind them made them turn and look down. Their houses, their temple, and their crops were being destroyed by the river, which had broken the dam and was flooding the valley.
The people began to cry and moan at their loss, but Modupe comforted them. ”Don’t worry,” he said “My crops are still here. We can share them while we build a new village.” Then all the people began to sing and give thanks because they remembered that, in coming to help a friend, they saved themselves.
Not sure if the story is true or not but what a great example of serving your neighbor. There are many lessons we can take from this example but I would like to focus on two: helping friends in trouble and a culture of serving.
When Modupe saw that his friends were in trouble he didn’t think, “Man, that’s too bad, I hope they figure out something, I wish there was something I could do, what if I burn my house and they don’t come up to help? He immediately thought I have to help my friends and then he thought of a plan. In life we see so many people who just turn a blind eye. We could do something or we have information that could help but we don’t. We are afraid of what that person might think. We are afraid of what other people will think. We are afraid of sacrificing something of our own. Ninety nine percent of the negative things we think could happen, usually never do. What usually does happen is we end up making a big impact in someones life. If you see someone that you think you can help, be the good Samaritan.
The second lesson was they had a culture of serving each other. Modupe wasn’t worried that burning his own house wouldn’t work because Modupe’s community had a culture of serving each other. He knew they would come to help him and by helping him they ended up helping themselves. There is an old statement that says, “If you help enough people get what they want you will always get what you want.” If your organization has a culture of serving the customer, you cannot lose. Even though you may not see the return, in the immediate, you will always see it in the long term. Set your goals around how many people you need to serve to accomplish your goal. Doing this accomplishes two great things. You get to your goal but more importantly you model the serving attitude. The compounding affect of a serving organization creates amazing results.
Are you serving your God, wife, kids, business partners? If so are you serving them the way they want to be served or the way you like to be served? What ways can you improve your service to your team? Can you be more patient, understanding, goal focused, give time, explain thought process, help overcome obstacles, give ideas or just listen. Whatever it is, if you model the behavior I can guarantee that others will follow your lead.