She rushes to her car after having scolded her hand pretty badly when some of her supervisor’s medium-roast spilled on her way out of Starbucks. Of course, this could’ve been avoided had she not been fumbling with two trays of coffee with scones and croissants stuffed in between. The spillage continues on the front passenger seat of her Golf but she’s too caught up thinking about the day ahead of her to realize. She pulls in, races to the door of the office, takes a deep breath and affixes an approachable yet confident smile on her face; her countenance seemingly unfazed by the past 10 minutes. The rest of the day is spent replying to annoying emails, helping people organize their workspace, listening to co-worker’s spill their guts, running errands, arguing with the phone company about some “unpaid bill,” is attentive in meetings, and does the rest of her work with tremendous excellence too.

Consider for a moment how this is possible and why she would tolerate a day like this. She doesn’t complain, she doesn’t insist that she is beyond these tasks. Her care for and value to the company is almost immeasurable, and yet she performs as if a servant to everyone around her. These are two of the most instrumental traits of a person thriving in any workplace: humble service and assumed ownership.

Serve Like an Intern

Run for Coffee

Anyone who knows me for longer than 6.5 minutes knows that I am an unashamed (but I would like to think, gracious) coffee snob. As such, I take coffee very seriously in my workplace and love to share this joy with my team. But regardless of your love affair with coffee or any other substance, if you can find a way to always honour your team, making them feel valued and serving with a sincere heart—even doing something as small as grabbing them a coffee—this will go a long way, regardless of whether people notice or not—that’s irrelevant. The driving factor behind sincere, humble service is to show others that there is more to life than just one’s career. In doing so, this will genuinely cultivate within yourself the servant leader that all aspirational people should be.  

The driving factor behind sincere, humble service is to show others that there is more to life than just one’s career.

Learn Continually

Lifelong learners make the best employees and bosses alike. Interns Good interns are typically more intimate with the concept of learning intentionally and will soak up a new and exciting work environment like a three-ply Bounty roll, but if left unchecked, excitement can quickly turn to cynicism and then school’s out, forever. Be cognizant of your growth and surroundings and allow each scenario you find yourself (or others) in to teach you. I’ve encountered countless occasions where the most unassuming people and difficult circumstances have shaped my thinking for the better. Keep your mind peeled.

Own it Like a Boss

Assume Responsibility

Some of the hardest and yet most fruitful moments in my professional, personal, and spiritual growth have come from instances where I assume responsibility—whether it’s mine to assume or not. At times, I’ve assumed responsibility for others (higher ups and other team members alike), receiving undeserved rebuke instead of praise. Now before I move to far on this let me clarify: (1) I’m not suggesting that you become a doormat for other people to continually walk all over and (2) I do firmly believe in the power of constructive criticism and that the best way to care for another person is to give them the truth with grace. What I am suggesting, however, is to gain perspective on your moments and see the opportunities you have to carry the failings, burdens, and successes of your team together. You are, after all, one unit. Consider is your company.

Listen Intentionally

Remember our friend at the beginning of this post? Do you recall how I mentioned that she was a sounding board for her co-workers’ concerns? She isn’t beyond stopping for a moment to hear a person out and is constantly aware of her surroundings. Doing her part to maintain a healthy office culture is a priority. She does this in order to gain perspective on the business she is a part of and to better develop it into a place of not only greater profitability and efficiency, but that of valuable feedback, effective action, and mutual respect.

I exhort you to view your workplace, whatever it may be, as a place to serve others and to treat the business in such a way that others would assume that you own the place. I’m not saying I do this well all the time, but I do believe it to be right. So, how about you? How do you define success in your workplace? Whether an employee, entrepreneur, freelancer, intern, or CEO, I truly believe your hands should feel the heat of another’s coffee before you can taste your own.


Post Script

A little creative transparency: While I was preparing the shot for this post and rushed out of the Starbucks parking lot, I spilled the drinks all over my front passenger seat. I was annoyed for a split second, then I remembered what I wrote and couldn’t help but chuckle. Oh, life.