Research Spotlight: Reflections on a Life of Service

When asked to reflect on service, the thought of an enlightened path came to mind.

The beginning of the journey to serving others starts with self.  Understanding or “knowing thy self”, what one believes in morals, values and ethics is very important.  Let self-assessment, as prescribed through Emotional Intelligence inform your every action.  In the cases of emergency management and public safety you must embody the ethic of “saving lives”.  In national security, you must be willing to sacrifice to protect others and “defend a nation”.  Service is not for everyone.  Not pursuing a life of service doesn’t make you a bad person.  If that is not for you, then please don’t start down that road.  But if you know deep down that helping and protecting others motivates you, then that is the first step forward on your path of service.

As you travel down life’s’ path, let ethos like “saving lives” and “defending a nation” be the sign post for every step you take.  There will be moments when the path forward is unclear.  The answer is simple; what action can I take next that will save the most lives or best protect my country?  Let your values guide you in your life journey to serving others.  There will be hard decisions along the way, some will require personal sacrifice.  Ask yourself these questions.  What am I willing to give up to serve others?  Can I work endless, stressful, sometimes dangerous hours for weeks on end to help those less fortunate?  Am I willing to always do the right thing for others, even to my own personal detriment?  Am I willing to end my career to protect the tenets of our society?  Selfless sacrifice to benefit those you serve are the well-worn shoes on the path of service.

A life of service rarely leads to fame and fortune. But the riches at the journey’s end is the knowledge that you helped strengthen a nation of people.  You alleviate the suffering of those who’ve lost everything and indeed, may have even saved their lives.  You can be proud that your service to others grows exponentially your singular humble efforts, to truly make the world a better place for all.

Robert McDaniel is currently an Associate Teaching Professor in the Emergency Management and Homeland Security Program and Senior Fellow at the Center for Disaster Risk Policy (CDRP) at Florida State University.

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