Early in my career, I had multiple mentors share with me this simple concept. “In all you do, add value. If you do that and make adding value your priority, everything else will fall into place.” I have tried to practice that since my early twenties and having experimented with this idea ever since, I can tell you that my mentors were right. If you focus on adding value, success in other areas will come. This concept has been one of the most powerful insights I have picked up along my own journey.

The key, I have discovered, is to add value without any expectations. Yes, if you practice adding value, the world will likely reward you – but the reward can’t be your motivation. Your motivation needs to be serving others. You can’t do this while focusing on, “What’s in it for me?” It needs to come from a place of wanting to help, wanting to lift others up, and wanting to make an impact for someone else. If your motive is selfish and fixated on what’s in it for you, the formula breaks down.

So what does this look like in practice, and how can you add value to the world today? Here are three ways I’ve woven this into my own life…

Create Connections – This is one of my favorite ways to add value. I’ve been blessed professionally to connect with so many amazing people. Whether they are clients or simply people in my circle, the relationships I’ve built and cultivated over time are diverse. That has uniquely positioned me today to be someone who can create valuable connections. “Do you know anyone who _____ ?” Whenever that question comes up, I know someone that fits the description. Being someone who creates relevant connections is a fantastic way to add value.

Listen and Share – Some days, adding value can be as simple as grabbing breakfast with a friend who is going through a challenge and needs a listening ear and some words of encouragement. It might mean spending a little extra time hanging out with one of your kids, or slowing down with your spouse. Professionally, it can mean taking a meeting or a call that is not focused on what I can sell someone, but instead on the simple advice and expertise I can share with them. In any case, showing up to share your time, an ear, and some knowledge with no expectations is powerful. 

Volunteer – I learned at a young age, watching my dad, that being active in your community is essential, not optional. There are so many ways that we can show up and add value where we live. Whether it’s in serving meals to the homeless, helping plant trees in our neighborhoods, or mentoring a teen who needs some vision, there are opportunities all around us to add value to our communities. Especially now, with so many in need, the world needs us to show up in big ways.

I’ll say this again. Add value with NO expectations. Give without expecting anything in return. This can be challenging – I get it. We’re hardwired to look out for ourselves. But here’s the deal… when you remove expectations from the equation, you quickly move from your interactions being all about a transaction to something that is all about the relationship. That’s where the real wins lie – in the relationships. And, that’s where you end up filling your own cup, when you add value freely. You will find that it feels good and makes you better in every area of your life. You’ll feel more grateful, more fulfilled, and more positive.

Here’s the best part. As my mentors told me years ago, when you make adding value your priority, everything else will fall into place. The world has a funny way of rewarding goodness, and this is no exception. Adding value will help you find success in life. It may show up in unexpected ways, but success will find you.

The Takeaway

Find a way, this week, to add value. Make a connection between two people in your circle. Grab breakfast with a friend or invest time chatting with someone who could use some professional advice. Look for a place where you can volunteer. There are so many ways to add value – so what are you waiting for? Go add some value!

One of the ways I am trying to add value for you is through the Depth Not Width blog with posts just like this. Want access to a steady stream of value? Subscribe here.

See you soon! – John