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Hospice And What I Learned About Leadership

Selflessness – Putting the needs of others before my own needs, desires and convenience.

This year, my mother died. During her last two months on this earth, we arranged to have hospice services provided. Watching the nurses, social workers and other staff care for my mother—along with the rest of our family—taught me a humbling lesson. I am selfish.

When I compare my responsiveness to the needs of others, compared to what I witnessed from these incredibly caring professionals, I realized I have a lot of room to grow. When there was a need, they responded. They used their wisdom, experience and genuine love for the person in need—and they responded. At times, they comforted us. Other times, they gave us difficult truths. Sometimes they told us we needed to change our attitudes and expectations. But, no matter the situations, they were always there and responded to our needs.

As leaders, how responsive are we to the needs of the people we are called to lead? How often do we wait for them to ask for help instead of offering it proactively? How often do we get annoyed when someone needs us more than we think they should? And how often do we try to avoid the people, topics or projects which would take us away from what we really want to do?

I am guilty of all these acts of selfishness. I think if we are honest, most of us are. But, as I watched my mother’s health deteriorate, I kept asking one thing. “God, what are you trying to teach me?” My prayer was answered in a way I didn’t expect. I saw Brandy, Cynthia, Laura, Rebecca, Glenn and the rest of the hospice crew come into my parent’s home and show me exactly what I needed to learn—the art of lovingly caring for another by being responsive.

To truly exercise Selflessness, I must be more responsive to the needs of others. I need to be quicker to respond and be sure to focus on the other person. I must learn how to put aside everything else and focus 100% of my attention to the individual in front of me.

Leaders, it is very easy to think too much of ourselves. I am a guy who writes books on Courage, Humility, Integrity, Selflessness, Duty and Positivity. But, I have so much left to learn. My mother’s mercifully brief illness and decline in health introduced me to the wonderful people at hospice who demonstrate Selflessness every single day. The bar they set for all of us who want to be Leaders of Character, is high. I have work to do. Most of us do. I want to make my mom proud and honor her and these caregivers I met by being a more selfless leader.

Dig Deep Questions:

  • How responsive are you to the needs of others at work and at home?

  • What attitude do you have during the times in which you do respond?


Exercising Selflessness takes work and is a lifelong journey. We want to partner with you as you practice the habit of Selflessness daily, which is why we have created FREE tools and resources to guide your journey.

To make it easy to keep the definition of Selflessness visible on your screens and devices, we would like to share our FREE Selflessness backgrounds for desktop and mobile available for download at:

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