Being selfish is often perceived as a negative trait. The phrases “don’t be so selfish”, and “why are you so selfish” are never intended as compliments.
I agree that generally being selfish is frustrating, self centred and not attractive. But I think it’s important that you are selective with what you are selfish in.
For sure, if you go to the cinema and eat all the popcorn you are meant to be sharing, or if you go out with some mates and you only buy yourself a drink, that can be considered selfish. If I am being honest I would consider myself a generous person. I have lent money to people I probably shouldn’t have. I enjoy buying people less fortunate than me food to eat, so in that sense I am definitely not selfish. But one aspect of my life I have been incredibly selfish in is my career. My career has been prioritised over a lot of things in my life, and I am so glad I chose to be selfish… Here’s why
- Self Fulfillment
My career in business is incredibly fulfilling. But just like any business, whilst I was building it, it had to come first the majority of the time. There were times where I missed out on birthdays, gatherings and nights out. And yes, I did get a lot of stick for it!
But my mindset on this was, I could pander to the people that are angry at me, which then lead me to do something I truly didn’t want to do, therefore leaving me feeling unfulfilled. This option didn’t seem positive for either party.
I could focus on what I want and what I wanted to achieve which could leave me feeling fulfilled.
Too many times in my career I have seen people give up on their goals and aspirations because they are too concerned with upsetting other people. Most people are more comfortable with upsetting themselves.
I had this problem when I first started out in business. My girlfriend at the time was complaining about how much I was working, which ultimately led to an ultimatum of “it’s me or your business”.
In reality this wasn’t a difficult decision. If the biggest problem she had was I was “working too hard” then my thought process led me to the conclusion that we will have bigger problems along the way that we probably won’t overcome.
More importantly to that! If I had given up on my goals, I would’ve resented her for the rest of my life which would’ve led to an unhappy ending anyway.
- People Development
This is a common problem I see a lot of people come across. When you step into a leadership role, you are responsible for a team of people. The biggest mistake I see people make is they stop working on themselves, they become selfless. Good leaders are good because they excel in that specific skill. If people would just focus on their own skill sets within a role and not worry about how other people are performing then they would be far more effective.
I have really simple advice for this point – Focus on yourself, focus on your development and everything else will follow suit. Be the example your team needs you to be!
Whenever I have had down periods in running my business, I always go back a few levels of leadership. I am not afraid of going back to the ‘grass roots’ level of work. Instead of moaning about the people in my business, I choose to lead by example, go back to basics and focus on my efforts.
- Being selfish helps people
We all have people we want to help in our lives. Could be family, could be friends. 90% of the time when it comes to helping people it will involve finances. The people that have been selfish in their career will eventually find themselves in positions to help people financially.
I believe money magnifies the person you are. If you’re a good person, you will do more good. But to put yourself in that position, somewhere down the line you need to think about yourself. You need to put yourself before other people, in order to eventually help people.
As I mentioned previously, I have been pretty selfish in my decision making when it comes to excelling in my career. But the return I have got from it has been worth it. And if I hadn’t been selfish then unfortunately I would’ve let a lot of people down, but more importantly I would’ve let myself down and I have now attracted people in my life that support my goals!