Choosing Purpose Over Fear: The Power of Service

the power of service -man working with purpose.

Choosing Purpose Over Fear: The Power of Service

During recent meetings with companies to discuss helping them with their IT, I’ve noticed a common thread that makes me contemplate the right way to do business and the broader idea of how to live and interact with people.

The stories I hear from company leaders are often similar in many ways.

“We are working with an IT-managed service provider (MSP), and their service is terrible. We lack structured long-term planning and consulting, we don’t know if they are doing anything proactively, and their help desk is either unavailable or not helpful. We need to find a different solution.”

The story moves on from there to a variety of different points.  One thing we often ask is to log in to the network with administrative credentials to gather some information.  In some cases, the company already has these, but frequently, of late, the MSP is the only holder of this information. For the company, having this solely in the hands of anyone can be problematic for reasons I’m sure you can imagine – MSP goes bankrupt, experiences a data breach, or simply loses your critical credentials. Having these critical credentials in your possession for safekeeping is something to consider.

The real problem arises when the business owner or someone in leadership requests the needed login and passwords. In many cases, the MSP will deny this request and state that they are contractually responsible for the company’s network and cannot provide it. They say it could introduce the risk of someone other than them accessing the network. While this sounds like a legitimate concern, but whose data is it? And who owns the password and the systems?

Another scenario is that the company’s MSP has moved many of its servers to its data center. It sounds like a great idea. Moving to the cloud can offer many advantages. All is well if the MSP is on its game, responsive, and providing excellent service.

The issue comes when things could be better, service has declined, and the company is reaching out to explore moving providers.  This creates another hurdle to moving MSPs. The company must also move its servers to another data center to change MSPs.  In many cases, even if they don’t intend to be difficult, the MSP is frustrated that they are losing a customer, and they make it as hard as possible to get any details on what is hosted and what needs to be moved. Some MSPs even make it clear that it won’t be easy to move the servers out of their control.

I’ve also encountered more than one occasion where even Internet lines were provided through the MSP, forcing the customer to continue to pay the MSP until the contract was up.  Once the contract is up, pay to move to a new contract and connection.

One-stop shopping is nice until the shop does not act in the customer’s interest. Everything has to be unraveled to move to a new MSP.

The short-term lesson is to maintain your server hosting relationship with a large provider like Microsoft or Amazon, where it is easily transferrable, or to maintain a data center relationship yourself.  By this, I mean you have a contract with the data center and pay them directly.  The same holds true for Internet lines.  Keep control of this relationship!

If we look deeper, the bigger and more interesting question is about how we do business and live.  If we look at the policies and practices of the IT providers in the stories I mentioned, they are all about protecting the MSP and trying to make it difficult for their customers to leave them. Their basis seems to be operating from fear. The internal talk is, “I must hold my customers close.  I have to make sure nobody can harm me or put me in jeopardy; I have to watch out, so I don’t get hurt.”  While there is undoubtedly a need to operate safely, they are not motivated by serving the customer but instead are motivated by protecting themselves.

The question at hand is, what motivates us?  I think it is easy, with all the pressures of our crazy world, to get skewed in this area.  Do we operate out of fear or out of purpose? Are we a giver, taker, or something in between? 

It is easy to think that life and business are zero-sum games.  We must protect ourselves, promote ourselves, and fight to get ahead.  The problem is that the purpose disappears when it becomes all about us, the fun fades, and our world becomes small.

What if we choose purpose over fear? What if we hold to a steadfast commitment to serve?  What if we are even a little vulnerable so that we can help others? What if we put our interests aside and help others first?

Who would you rather work with? The purpose-driven company (or person) committed to serving well and willing to be vulnerable if it helps someone?  Or, the fear-based, win-at-all-cost company (or person) who won’t give an inch because it might jeopardize their success?

Interestingly, there is an advantage to recognizing we are here to serve.  It’s one of those strange paradigms.  When you prioritize serving others before yourself, you reap the benefits.  Giving is, indeed, better than receiving.  The companies (and the people) that focus on serving well ultimately thrive.  Self-focused people might experience fleeting success, but those who endure and flourish are the people who prioritize service.

Let me encourage you to commit or recommit to service.  Kick out the fear and stop holding things so close.  Service and giving not only is a better way of living and operating, it is the catalyst for true and lasting success.