“The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.” -Albert Schweitzer
Sitting at my desk on a beautiful Spring afternoon, contemplating what I wanted to share with our clients, colleagues and friends, I thought of this quote. It’s a quote from a man who did grander, more impactful work than I suppose I will ever do – yet it does not intimidate me or make me somehow feel less than. It’s inspiring and motivating and, most of all, it’s centering. When reading these words about being helpful and compassionate, my reaction is “well, of course” and then I start to imagine what I can do to help others.
All too often, we read quotes like this and feel admiration for the person who said it, not realizing that the words are applicable to each and every one of us in our own worlds. Serving others is not limited to building hospitals in Africa. It can mean helping a neighbor or donating your time to a local community organization. Showing compassion does not have to mean providing relief to people ravaged by war. It can mean providing a hand to a stranger who is struggling to carry a heavy load as I witnessed on my way to work this morning. We forget that the accumulation of all those “small” acts of servitude and compassion can truly make a difference.
This same attitude toward serving others with genuine compassion translates effortlessly into the work we do every day. Our team is not made up of surgeons saving lives or counselors helping people get through their days – I am not suggesting that level of service to humanity! However, one of our core values is compassion which leads us to constantly look through that lens at all the work we do. Our day- to-day work is generally comprised of managing assets and providing the wrap-around services to assist in keeping our clients’ financial lives in order. More often than not, we are working with a family who has lost a loved one and is settling an estate, or is going through a divorce and dividing up assets. We might also be assisting a family struggling with a child battling a mental health or substance abuse issue. At those times, we recognize our role as compassionate human beings who are here to serve others and ease even a small piece of their struggle.
At another level, Schweitzer’s quote makes me think about how we operate within our company – not just how we treat clients. As a leader of this organization, I often think about how people who work here feel about their position and treatment at this firm. Are we doing everything we can to humanize the work relationships? Are we treating the people who work here as more than a source of output and hit to the bottom line? Are we recognizing them as human beings who have lives outside of work that are made up of celebrations, anxieties, complications, sadness and joy? Are we not just recognizing their humanity, but actively embracing it?
So, while I admire Schweitzer’s work and compassion, I’m fairly certain I will never match his efforts. But that’s okay. My goal for us all, as suggested by Ralph Waldo Emerson, is “to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived”.
Founding Partner, President & Chief Financial Officer