The Selfishness Paradigm


Selfishness paradigm copy

The crying baby, the defiant pre-teen, the daredevil college student, the success-driven executive… What do they all have in common?  “I want what I want!”

As I’ve been reflecting on myself and the inherent pride that I’ve always and continue to struggle with in my own life, I’ve started to hone in on one if it’s ugliest manifestations.  SELFISHNESS.  It’s not that most people wake up in the morning and decide, “Today I’m going to be selfish and take whatever I want.”  However, there’s a lingering darkness inside each of us, despite our best efforts, which gravitates towards this unconscious decision of “taking what’s mine” and making the day’s goals, work, accomplishments and all things about ourselves.  Sure, we’ve had to make sacrificial adjustments in life phase changes, we’ve had moments of pure altruism, but most often the compass points to ME.

I’m not pointing fingers, but confessing.  I’m not even going to suggest that I know the recipe for selfLESSness and am able to give you “5 Ways to lead an Unselfish Life.”  This is what I have observed though…

At the day of our birth, we are 100% selfish.  We have to be, we were made to be… otherwise we would die.  We don’t even have the cognitive or emotional functions to desire to want to make our parents smile or laugh.  On the other side of the timeline of life, I’ve talked to many men that are a little older, a lot older, and nearing their deathbed and the profound difference in most of them is that very little is about them.  In fact, we don’t get to know our older generations because they choose to ask about us before talking about themselves… and we let them.  Except for that momentary fear of death when they are approaching the final years, our seniors have very little if any selfishness left in them.  They want out of the limelight, they want to help their family, they want to live out their final years with significance.  Now I know this is a huge generalization and I also know there are some who probably take their me-centric lifestyle straight to their deathbed.  However, most seniors have learned and choose not to, and by observing and learning from this general trend, we can learn a bigger truth about life from our elders…


The quicker we can recognize this truth and then practice selflessness in our own lives, the larger legacy we can leave behind.  Not a legacy of fame or success, but of real significant impact on people.  How long will we let our goals, our success, our hobbies, our travel destinations, our money, or our time be the compass of your decision making?  Great leaders serve their people and help them succeed.  Who will you put first today?