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Exploring the Fourth, or ‘Service’ Perspective

If you’ve been keeping up with our recent series of blogs, you’ve got to be convinced by now that perspective is important. Okay, not just important; crucial. It affects how we act and interact, how we respond to situations and how we see the world. And I have to admit, the posts leading up to this one have been kind of a downer. When we get stuck in those lower perspectives, the world can seem like a scary, angry place. However, the fourth perspective, or what is known as the ‘service’ perspective, changes that all around.

Those who have the service perspective might gravitate toward professions like nurses, teachers or church workers because the main focus is serving others without expecting something in return. Of course, there are plenty of people in all kinds of fields who operate under this perspective. They are the co-workers who are always trying to help you out with your report, the strangers who offer to carry groceries out for you at the store and friends who bring you over home-cooked dinners when you’re sick. Sounds great, right? Well, it is: for those who are being helped. And sometimes it’s wonderful for the helper, too, because helping out others can ignite a positive energy and general feeling of connection.

The core thought at this level is concern for others. This is the level of caring, giving, supporting and helping. It looks and feels very selfless since the belief here is that “I win when you win”, and so the focus is supporting and helping others to achieve and succeed. Because people at level 4 have a deep compassion for what they do and who they do it with, they are inspired in their work and have a natural ability to inspire those around them to serve others and do good work. This approach fosters a lot of collaboration and loyalty in their teams and circles, and level 4 people tend to demand that loyalty and trustworthiness in return from those they surround themselves with.

Clearly, there are a lot of positives associated with the level 4 perspective. However, those who get stay too long in this perspective can (and often do) fall into a few different traps. The first is that they continually put themselves last. Instead of making sure they have enough sleep, help, money, etc., they are constantly making sure others have what they need and can easily start running on empty. The other common trap is feeling taken advantage of. Even though they are the ones continually offering to help and rarely asking for it in return, it’s easy for those with this perspective to begin wondering, “Hey. What about me?” If this feeling continues, you often see that those with the service perspective can tumble down to the victim perspective. In fact, these two perspectives often become mirror images of each other with people swinging between them on a pretty regular basis. If you’ve ever identified someone in your life as a ‘martyr’, then you know what I’m talking about!

The service perspective can be a very valuable one, and I think everyone will agree that we could certainly use more helpful people in the world. In fact, I think all of us could adopt a few more of the traits of this perspective, including loyalty, compassion and empathy. If you identify with level 4 yourself, then you are a very giving and nurturing person! Just beware of neglecting your own self-care for long periods of time and finding yourself in burnout or tumbling down into to a less desirable perspective. If you find that you’re continuously helping people and rarely getting anything in return, try to remember that it’s ok to ask for what you need too, and that saying no once in awhile doesn’t mean you don’t care or are callous. Remember the saying about putting on your own gas-mask first!

We really start getting into the cool stuff when talking about the next level of perspective, the ‘possibilities’ perspective. I can’t wait!

Trish Cody has over 18 years of experience consulting with some of the world’s top Fortune 500 Companies. Today, as an ICF and iPEC Certified Coach and Energy Leadership Master Practitioner, Trish works with clients to uncover their core values and beliefs, clearly see how they are showing up in their behaviors and impacting their success, and to shift their thinking to naturally attract positivity and success. For more information, visit

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