LWS Pixel

“You’d corner me in your conformity but even in dormancy I’m sleeping with enormity, stretching the belly of the earth and everything I was born to be.”

         ― Curtis Tyrone Jones, a veteran, coach, motivational speaker, and author


When I hear people say a successful business requires that customers are #1, I am reminded of the saying, “Christmas is for children!” Is it really? Or rather, is it really only for them? This pre-supposes adults who are whole and complete and overflowing with generosity. I contend, we all need to be treated as #1. Consider: Is your business success solely dependent on the ability of your people to focus on serving customers as top priority? Is it possible you are prematurely “cornering them in your conformity, while in dormancy, they are sleeping with enormity?” I suggest this focus is only part of what’s crucial to guarantee sincere, lasting, and generous service.


Here’s why I see it this way… I was raised in a family that made loving others and focusing on their needs the priority for my siblings and myself. This service-mindedness was often at the exclusion of one’s own needs, wants, and desires. While there are some truly great things about being trained to care about others, when this is done at the cost of one’s own identity, development, and support, it generally leads to a life of unhealthy boundaries, over-giving, confusion, shame about one’s own needs and wants, burnout, and other imbalances.


As in the life of a child, people of every age, require healthy individuation, a process of developing an identity separate from one’s authority figures and peers, as well as customers, vendors, and others to be served. Individuation is self-realization and necessary to the development of our personality and self-esteem. If we do not successfully complete this process in our adolescence, we must complete it in adulthood, often in our workplaces (and elsewhere too). Without healthy individuation, people lose touch with aspects of their true selves and fail to fully integrate their unique ways of thinking, feeling, or valuing, distractions that impede their ability to serve generously. The good news is that individuation can be developed simultaneously with social interest in which one intends to cause positive outcomes for others. It is then everyone in any group can be helpful and successful.


People cannot overflow with abundance towards others in an authentic and sincere way without first knowing and loving who they are. It’s like trying to climb a tree before mastering walking; it’s a step too far, too fast which is one definition of trauma. Why does this matter? Because as a leader, you cannot expect your people to be in service to others without having well-defined, confident, supported, and differentiated selves required for such service. All are crucial for ensuring the service needed that ultimately contributes to your success and profitability.


So how do you create both strong individuals and strong service to others? Every leader must create conditions and conversations in which their people develop a strong and healthy sense of self by being heard fully, encouraged, provided trust and respect, the skills to resolve conflicts and barriers, and supported in the discovery and mastery of their personal power. Each must get their social and emotional needs met individually while simultaneously helping those around them do the same. The following conditions are just some that are essential:

    • Enabling people to both lead AND follow
    • Supporting them in giving AND receiving
    • Teaching them firmness AND respect
    • Fostering their freedom AND responsibility
    • Nurturing their power-within AND support of power-within all
    • Developing them individually AND collectively
    • Encouraging their love, compassion, and respect for self AND others

One of the 4 core needs of all people is to contribute. We are wired to do so and to feel deep satisfaction when we serve. Service must be coupled with knowing one is lovable and deserving of being served too. If you want to develop such conditions and conversations for a truly caring organization, give us a call. We can help you develop amazing individuals who ‘stretch the belly of the earth and become everything they were born to be.’

Why People Hire Judy Ryan and LifeWork Systems

Business owners, community leaders, and educators hire Lifework Systems because they want the advantages of an extraordinary workplace and recognize a systems approach ensures consistency and sustainability in the transformation process. They know that conscientious employees grow your business and improve your reputation, giving you competitive advantages. We help organizations instill into every person a common language and toolset for how to participate in a responsibility-based Teal workplace. Visit our website at www.lifeworksystems.com, and click the link at the bottom to complete a culture assessment and schedule your first consult to review a report on your feedback, all at no cost.  You can also contact Judy Ryan at 314.239.4727 or at judy@lifeworksystems.com.

This article is published in Judy’s column The Extraordinary Workplace produced by the St. Louis Small Business Monthly, in January 2023.