To serve vs. to lead.

Most of my work these days is related to my law practice as opposed to health coaching. However, these words apply to any service I provide to any human. As we all struggle to learn, cope, reflect, and ultimately all choose how to respond to and live in our ever-changing world, I think these thoughts are important. 

I have heard from business owners who have received push-back recently after speaking up for racial justice in support of protests around the country. The response is along the lines of “stay in your lane” or why is my estate planning attorney (or insert any profession) talking to me about race etc.

One possible response is : as a business owner you choose who you serve. If someone disagrees with your views, that is not the person you want to serve.

I worry that this response leads to more divisiveness. Remember the case that made it to the Supreme Court when a baker was unwilling to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple?

I don’t agree that we should choose who we serve in all instances.

For example, perhaps a baker refuses to make a specific type of wedding cake because that type of cake is not what they do. Maybe the bakery only focuses on pastries and not cakes at all. That baker would be choosing to focus on pastries. They can lead the pastry industry. They will not be serving people who don’t like pastries, but can and should, I think, serve anyone who wants what they are offering.

As we see businesses speaking up in support of equality, I think these businesses are being leaders for what’s right in a time where that voice is important (okay, maybe far too late, 100% myself included, but let’s be grateful for what’s happening).

Here is how I am thinking about this in my own business. I will serve everyone. If I agree to prepare an estate plan for you, I will carry out your wishes to the extent it is legal under the law. If you want to donate to organizations I don’t agree with, or not donate at all, I will graciously carry out your wishes fully in the same way I would for someone donating to my favorite charity.

As a leader, I can share the businesses core values. I can educate clients and potential clients about the benefits of legacy giving (leaving donations through an estate plan). I can educate myself and my community about charitable foundations and other mechanisms for giving. I can ask clients if they want to give to an organization, thereby normalizing charitable donations. I can stand in support of the Black Lives Matter movement because now is not the time to stay silent.

In this way I lead, but I will not refuse to serve anyone who wants the service I provide, from me, and whom is otherwise unharmful to me.

It also of course means that those who do not like the values I do vocalize are unlikely to hire me, but that to me is in the same way that those who don’t like me will hire someone else because we are a bad fit. And that’s okay.


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