Being Useful

Nearly two decades ago, a journalist asked late King of Thailand his majesty Bhumidol Adulyadej how he wanted to be remembered.

He replied that he cared very little about how history remembered him. He said “if they want to write about me in a good way they should write how I do things that are useful”.


Ambassador Samantha Power delivering remarks at a UN General Assembly Memorial Service for the late King of Thailand his majesty Bhumidol Adulyadej.
It takes real courage and strength , which needs to be earned every time we put ourselves out there to be useful. Most of us want to be the hero of our own story, but for whatever reason we convince ourselves that one person can’t make a difference, or if they could ; it surely cant be me.It seems that we all can get so wrapped up in that all defining moment . That magical,extraordinary cosmic snap of the fingers , of when can I be courageous ? When can I be heroic ? That sense that it has to be extraordinary .What if the extraordinary , is really the ordinary daily commitment to be useful. Rolling up our sleeves, being useful, and being of service.We don’t need extraordinary heroic to validate ourselves. We don’t need the universe to snap its fingers and grant us permission to be heroic, courageous and useful. The only way we become heroic , courageous , and useful is by being courageous , heroic , and useful.


What exactly is heroic? Is it the slaying of dragons and rescuing a damsel in distress? According to Christopher McDougall author of Natural Born Heroes; the story of the extraordinary in the ordinary “ True heroism, as the ancients understood, isn’t about strength, or boldness, or even courage. It’s about compassion” . Further he adds” empathy, the Greeks believed, was a source of strength, not softness; the more you recognized yourself in others and connected with their distress, the more endurance, wisdom, cunning, and determination you could tap into.” Heroes care! They are useful!

Now if that got your heart beating a little faster , take a deep breath , hold on tight , and get ready for the icing on the cake. Natural Born Heroes introduced me to Georges Hebert and his idea of Fit to be Useful:

Hébert, consequently, came up with the strangest mission statement ever devised for getting in shape. He called it Méthode Naturelle—the Natural Method—and it would be ruled by a five-word credo that had zero to do with getting ripped, getting thin, or going for gold. In fact, it had zero to do with ‘getting’ anything; Hébert was heading the opposite direction.

‘Etre fort pour etre utile,’ Hébert declared. ‘Be fit to be useful.’ It was brilliant, really. In those final two words, Hébert came up with a complete philosophy for life. No matter who you are, no matter what you’re seeking or hope to leave behind after your time on the planet—is there any better approach than simply to be useful? ‘Here is the great duty of man to himself, to his family, to his homeland and to humanity,’ Hébert wrote. ‘Only the strong will prove useful in difficult circumstances of life.’” – Christopher McDougall

We can all follow the lead of the late King of Thailand his majesty Bhumidol Adulyadej and be more useful. We do have the qualifications.