Thanks for sharing, Charlie. There’s a great story by Herman Hesse called “Journey to the East” that should be required reading for anyone interested in self-improvement, leadership, or human relationships. The essential premise is that a guy goes on a big trip to the Holy Land, financed by some unknown benefactor. When the trip starts, there’s this servant that no one knows making everything happen.

He’s cooking breakfast before anyone else is up. He’s packing the tents while everyone else is sitting around drinking coffee. He’s singing songs throughout the day to keep spirits up. And at night, he’s taking care of the animals making him the last to go to bed.

Then he disappears and the whole thing comes apart. People start squabbling. Morale dissolves, and the caravan breaks up. No one makes it the Holy Land. The protagonist later runs into the servant and finds out that, low and behold, he was the secret benefactor the whole time.

That story goes through my mind a hundred times a day. When I’m trying to be my best self, am I acting like one of the rich guys on the trip, enjoying ease and power? Or am I the servant, doing the things I can and trying to bring my best self to the world?

The servant was still rich and powerful when no one else knew about it. He’d be rich and powerful whether the caravan finished the trip or not. He literally didn’t need the outcome like most members of the group did. But he used everything he had to try to give a positive outcome to others, even when they couldn’t see it.

Like you say, that internal measure is going to drive me to my best self. And by a lucky coincidence, bringing my best self to my life is likely to drive better external outcomes for everyone.

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