Whether it is in class, in your home or amongst friends, selfishness is probably the last thing you want to be associated with. Some people would rather be accused of murder than be called selfish. Why? Because at some point it became a social norm for people to care about others more than they care about themselves. From day 1 you’re brought up to become the equivalent of Mother Teresa, embracing everyone and trying to help the best you can. In class you’re supposed to help your classmate, at home you’re assigned to help your brother with his homework and in society you’re expected to be good to thee neighbor and kin.
The problem is, we interpreted selflessness in the wrong way, and we consequently suffered extreme damages from it. Selflessness became, not the act of being helpful to others, but being self aware of what people think of you. Selflessness became the notion that you should impress people you don’t like even if that means getting money you don’t have to buy things you don’t need. Put it simply: we started caring about what people thought of us instead of caring about people.
The first step in caring about people is first and foremost to care about yourself. If you want to help someone with his classes you better be the smartest guy in the room. If you want to help your aunt with rent you better have a good lineup of Benjamins in your bank account. If you want to eradicate ebola you’d have to either be a healthcare genius or a philanthropist whose sole purpose is to spend billions fighting viruses and diseases. The common thread here is that you have to focus on making yourself the best version you can be in order to be in a position to be of assistance to others.
People today expect to help the world and embrace the whole of humanity with their arms wide open by wearing flip flops and going around shouting that Wall Street is evil or that big corporations are bringing the world to its knees. You can’t be of value to people by the mere fact of claiming your allegiance to goodness and humanitarianism. Goals without a plan are just a wish, and in today’s world there is no shortage of wishes and dreams. Words can make people feel better, for a while, but if you don’t have a clear way to uplift people through financial and in-kind support, then you’re no different than Dr. Phil telling how to get better by using great words and encouraging speeches.
The world needs doers, people who get out there and sweat to make things happen. The world needs more selfish driven individuals who accumulate knowledge, expertise and wealth so that they can have an impact in people’s lives. The same students who go out protesting against corporate tycoons have had scholarships financed by the likes of BP, Philip Morris and Total. It’s easy to whine and complain, it’s even easier to claim you’re there to help people when you’re in no capacity to actually do so. Help yourself first before you attempt to help others. Be a bit selfish, start by empowering YOU before you move on to others. It takes some selfishness for people to acquire the skills and capacity to make an impact and touch people in a meaningful way.
Picture Credit: We Heart It