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Arlington National CemetaryBusiness leaders often talk about sacrifice, giving your all, taking one for the team. I’ve done it myself. Part of running a business involves dedicating yourself to some larger calling, whether it’s helping customers, improving quality of life for your employees, increasing shareholder value, or some combination of the three.

Each of these, and countless others, represent worthwhile goals. Admirable even.

And yet none of these represent a real sacrifice. They’re a trade-off, a business transaction. You give of your time, your energy, your passion, and in exchange you receive fulfillment, satisfaction, and, ideally, financial rewards too.

There’s no sin in that, mind you, no shame. But it’s important to remember what’s truly at stake.

Real sacrifice entails giving of yourself solely for the benefit of others. Real risk entails the potential for loss of something you can never recover.

Today in the United States we observe Memorial Day, a remembrance of the men and women who’ve died while serving the United States Armed Forces. Unlike our Veteran’s Day, which honors all who’ve served, Memorial Day is entirely about those who’ve lost their lives. It serves the same purpose as Remembrance Day in the Commonwealth, Anzac Day in Australia/New Zealand, and others I’m sure I’m not aware of.

Because of the sacrifices of these men and women, I live in a country where I’m free to pursue my passions and dedicate myself to a larger calling, one that fulfills me and, I hope, makes the world a slightly better place. But today also reminds me that, no matter what I do, I should never think of it as a sacrifice. That word belongs to those we remember today.

(Image credit: Graves at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day)

Tim Peter is the founder and president of Tim Peter & Associates. You can learn more about our company's strategy and digital marketing consulting services here or about Tim here.

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