Scale As An Externality

Apr 28, 2012

I often have conversations with many traditional leaders about scale.  The intention of helping as many people as possible feels like a noble one, and the work of ServiceSpace is also reaching some amount of scale.  Yet it's different.  For us, scale is a mere externality.  Whether things scale or not, we stay rooted in the small.  That sounds like a subtle shift but it makes a huge difference.  For instance, in two weeks, I'll be speaking at the spiritual part of UPenn's commencement.  The University president's invite mentioned two audiences (A-L, L-Z :)) in a setting that is home to massive rock concerts. :)  The other speaker is 2011's Time 100 most influential person; General Petraeus will be getting an honorary degree at this gathering.  Its quite an honor -- particularly to give one's first graduation talk at an Ivy league school.  Yet its different.  It isn't a stepping stone in some choreographed grand scheme.  It happened because I gave a small talk at a gathering many moons ago; a high school kid was deeply impacted by the stories and stayed connected to ServiceSpace; when he went to Penn, he was touched by another mentor and dreamed of a day when his two mentors would meet. :) Several years later, I met his other mentor.  It was a beautiful connection.  There was no other agenda.  Year and a half later, I get this invite to share my learnings so far.  Yes, there is some amount of scale involved -- but that's just a side show.  

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"Service doesn't start when you have something to give; it blossoms naturally when you have nothing left to take."

"Real privilege lies in knowing that you have enough."