By Basil Springer

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth” – Muhammad Ali –

On two occasions recently, Chester Connell, invited me to be his guest on CBC radio. On each occasion we engaged in intense discussion over a one-hour segment of his programme. His reasons for inviting me initially were to learn more about Counterpart Caribbean at the Future Centre and to discuss a column that I had written on spiritual capital. On the second occasion he wanted to learn more about CBET and its impact on CSME.

Chester visited the Future Centre and was impressed by the approach to share with others, through indoor and outdoor educational and scientific exhibits, the value of sustainable development practices today for the benefit of future generations. He then questioned me on the sequence of events in my life which led up to the recognition that spiritual capital should be included in a country’s capital asset base along with intellectual, social, cultural, human, natural, physical and financial capital.

I indicated the following: I had a Christian upbringing, the principles of which remained with me up to this day; ‘The Power of positive thinking’ by the Rev. Norman Vincent Peale, as a teenager; The Ten Demandments of Prosperity – Dynamics of successful living’ by Dr. Stuart Grayson and Ageless Body, Timeless Mind’ by Dr. Deepak Chopra, later in life; and more recently Pastor A.R. Barnard of the Christian Life Centre of Brooklyn, New York; all influenced my philosophy of living to day.

After reflecting on this sequence, we addressed the question ‘What is the purpose of life?’ I shared with him the principles which guide my own life, which are: ‘Communicating with God; Being of service to others; and Identifying that which is unique about me and Using it in the service of others.

We have recently concluded our 38th Anniversary of Independence celebrations and are moving swiftly into the Christmas season. This provides an opportunity for us to ‘pay our rent’ by being of service to others less fortunate than ourselves. These celebrations saw the inaugural signing of the National Initiative for Service Excellence (NISE) to promote a unified voice to speak to the improvement of service throughout Barbados.

Over the weekend, Simpson Motors, partnered with the Barbados Cancer Society, to stage a magnificent Christmas Wonderland event. This was indeed an example of service to others as was evidenced by the hundreds of children, accompanied by adults, who thoroughly enjoyed the festive scene. The Barbados Cancer Society benefited from the contributions made at the door which would allow them, in turn, to provide preventive health care services to others aimed at reducing pain and suffering from cancer.

Rotary International’s motto, now in its hundredth year, is indeed ‘Service above self” and all of the service clubs in Barbados, as the name suggests, provide service to others. The Heart Foundation of Barbados and other health NGOs also have a band of volunteers who commit themselves to service to others. The members of the Barbados Association of Retired Persons are gearing up to increase the services they provide to others. The infrastructure is therefore in place for all of us to provide service to others so there is no excuse for us to be in arrears with our rent.

So far we have focused on voluntary service but of course quality service on the job is also necessary for us to fulfill our purpose in life. What is more is that my experience is that there is a guaranteed reward of satisfaction when one diligently serves others from the heart.

The advent of NISE is timely in the context of other initiatives like ‘100% Bajan’ and CSME. As I indicated in the second of Chester’s programmes, it is all very nice for us to articulate a Vision. However Visions alone are mere fantasies and they must be accompanied by the appropriate Action for us to achieve any meaningful objectives which we may set. Congratulations to the individuals who were honoured at the NISE inauguration.

Later on Independence Day there was the usual Independence Awards Ceremony at Government House which is really an occasion designed to and succeeds in epitomizing national unity. The public orator in his well-researched citations on the awardees brought out the areas in which these awardees had served. It was an impressive list, but indeed, not comprehensive. Another feature of the Independence Awards occasion was the excellence of the presentations in the cultural part of the show which, by the way, was mainly staged by the youth of the country. This augurs well for our future. The performance of a voluntary service allows us to pay rent for our room here on earth. This service must be performed with a flair of excellence. If our service is through gainful employment then it is also important that we maintain the standards of service excellence.

Hopefully there will be change leaders in our society who will capture the opportunity to promote and implement high levels of service quality so that our internal and external customers will benefit thus contributing to the sustainable development of our country.

(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. (CBET) -