Jim Williams
Jun 3, 2024

Service of something larger than yourself. That sounds really good when you type it and say it, but how do you actually do it?

Well, like the other Getting Thru Mindset elements I saw this one modeled by my son Kyle firsthand while he was being treated for cancer. After many months of being at Memorial Sloan Kettering in NYC we were able to move back to Minnesota to our family home and continue Kyle’s treatments there. Fact was that the many months of horrific therapies had failed to bring Kyle to remission, so we had the option of heading home. The plan was they would give him low dose chemotherapy to try and keep the disease at bay until new treatments became available, unfortunately these treatments never came to pass.

With Kyle back at Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis our life began to take on a more normal tone with his treatments being done during the day a few days a week. Being home every night in his own bed was quite a gift for him and for us.

Leslie would usually be the one taking Kyle for these treatments and one day she noticed Kyle had disappeared. By now we were veterans of the cancer treatment process so seeing Kyle immerse himself in the clinic was not new. However, Leslie stopped one of the nurses and asked where Kyle was. She went on to explain that over the last few months Kyle had taken to “treat” some of the new kids in the clinic. Leslie of course was super interested in learning what treat meant and the nurse went on to explain that Kyle had become part of the team, helping new kids understand what went on in the clinic, from how their medi-ports worked, to how they would feel after treatments and how we would help them anyway he could, including being their friend. A better definition of service, I could not find anywhere.

When I saw Kyle model this myself, I was proud and humbled. I was proud that Leslie and I raised a son who would treat others this way, as parents I felt like we could see his upbringing was resulting in these acts of kindness which was amazing. It also humbled me and made me ask myself if I behaved in a similar way, did I serve others, something larger than myself, as my 6-year-old son did? Upon looking in the mirror I decided I had work to do.

I had read a book in the early 2000’s called The Servant Leader by Ken Blanchard. It was recommended to those of us in leadership roles at Best Buy as we were embarking on a new strategy that would require us to engage our employees and customers in a new way, as servant leaders. Blanchard shared a simple framework that at the time made a ton of sense to me as a leader, get your head, heart and hands aligned and you will build the habits that produce great leadership that unleashes the power of all to achieve desired

results. The theme of the book is modeled after the leadership shown by Jesus Christ to his apostles. Kyle often said he spoke with Jesus; in fact he told us that Jesus told him he was never going to be any bigger a full year before he was diagnosed with cancer. As I saw Kyle serving his fellow cancer patients at Children’s I was convinced he was modeling servant leadership for me and others. To this day I embrace this notion as best I can and coach others to slow down and be sure they have the mind, heart and behaviors aligned so the habit of a fulfilled life can shine through.

Read and adopt some of what you learn in the Servant Leader, your life will change because of it.

- Jim Williams