Proper Selfishness

“To be successful you have to be selfish, or else you never achieve. And once you get to your highest level, then you have to be unselfish. Stay reachable. Stay in touch. Don’t isolate.” – Michael Jordan

Proper selfishness is a concept I have been exploring for years and am now using in my coaching and applying in my own life and achieving great results.

Because the majority of the population has an attitude of “it’s all about me” and even a sense of entitlement, the word “selfishness” is typically viewed in a negative context. I grew up being taught by my parents and teachers not to be selfish. Always share and think of the other person first. What if in my not sharing and giving away my energy or most productive hours of the day to others, I concentrate instead on doing something that is self-focused and makes me better and thereby enables me to help others and be a better husband or father, employee, friend, neighbor, etc.? Would that potentially have more impact and benefit others? I think the answer is yes.

An exercise or fitness program; eating well and getting enough rest; taking a relaxing vacation; taking a night school or online program; spending time in prayer or meditation are all activities that reflect “proper” selfishness. The selfishness I’m advocating focuses on becoming a balanced person that places the correct amount time and effort on the physical, mental, intellectual and spiritual dimensions of life. Think about it – a self-aware, physically healthy and well adjusted person is someone who is emotionally stable and has the ability to draw upon deep resources in each of the four areas I’ve identified. These people have experience, perspective, insight and wisdom that enable them to achieve great things that benefit others and themselves. These are all very important in order to become a person that can not only look after themselves but also share their strengths, resources and talents with others. Great achievements and successes will be realized at work, in their family and in the communities they serve.

In my personal life and career, I have embraced proper selfishness as a way to maintain perspective and balance while staying focused on achieving my goals. It’s not easy. It requires commitment, dedication and hard work. Be selfish and do it too; the results are worth it!

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