Paul Butler | Service over self

Paul Butler: Going the Extra Mile
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This past weekend was a very special one for many because they celebrated the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the Super Bowl of the Christian faith — topped and tailed between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. It was a weekend to remind Christians, it’s not about us but rather, what God did for us. 

On my drive up Copperhill, I noticed a car with the registration plate “IAMSOME1,” which seemed very self-centered to me, and it set me thinking about how we think. I guess the emphasis on self really jarred with my soul, especially when I thought of where I was headed and why, which most certainly was not to focus on self. 

The concept of how we think rattled around my head all day. William Shakespeare, (or as we used to call him, “Billy Shakes” as English schoolboys) once said: “As a person thinks, so are they.” Now, as brilliant an orator as Billy was, he stole this line from the book of Proverbs, which states more fully: “As a person thinks in their heart, so are they.”  

I just couldn’t get the registration plate, “IAMSOME1” out of my mind. It then hit me between the eyes that psychology, at best, is the study of the mind. So, I don’t know the motivation of the person who owns said registration plate, but maybe, just like William said, we are just a collection of our thoughts. 

The only concern I have about this self-focus is how I have seen it play out in workplaces all over the world. See, if I’m all about self — I think more of myself than I think of others. See, if I’m all about self — I don’t tend to lead others well. See, if I’m all about self — I don’t work well in teams.  

Innately, I’ve always been very skeptical of psychology. Over the years doing what we do, as a staff training and development company, I’ve noticed a lot of humanistic-based psychology seep into our field. Such programs are awash with models, concepts, theories and techniques to manipulate others to do what you want them to do based on how they think. Conversely, we just teach timeless principles based on the human heart. 

I am a simple guy from simple middle England and so it seems to me there’s a lot of simple mumbo-jumbos about psychology. I believe with all my heart, the heart of the issue between people, especially those in the workplace, is the human heart. Just like Shakespeare shouldn’t have, we can’t cut out a few words from a sentence that was written 3,000 years before he even strolled the streets of Stratford selling his prose. Remember: “As a person thinks in their heart, so are they.”  

When I reflect back on the men and women who led me best in the workplace, I don’t think they ever attended any psychology-based leadership training — or perhaps they did, and like most, they forgot what they heard. I believe the best leaders I ever worked for, or colleagues I worked with, were people who simply thought of others more than themselves. Rather than thinking “Me, Myself and I” they seemed to think, “You, We and Us.” 

Just as this past Easter weekend reminded me there’s no greater love than to lay down one’s life for your friends — I was also reminded the way we think does direct what we do. But how we think — well, that comes from what’s in our heart. When the heart is rightly aligned with timeless principles, it naturally transforms the way we think. One thing I know for sure is that great leaders, great teams and great colleagues think of others more than themselves. 

Paul Butler is a Santa Clarita resident and a client partner with Newleaf Training and Development of Valencia ( For questions or comments, email Butler at [email protected]. 

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