What if I told you selfishness is the key to success – that it can help you make your dreams come true? Let’s take a closer look at what it means to be selfish, and if you need to embrace selfishness to achieve success.
You’re a nice guy – always helping others.
You lend your bike to your friends.
You help your cousin complete his college assignment (even if you don’t get sleep that night).
You stay late at work to finish Rahul’s weekly report so he can enjoy a romantic evening with his girlfriend.
You try hard – to help your classmates, friends, and coworkers succeed. And you feel good about it.
But, at times, you feel you’re not getting anywhere.
You’re doing everything you can to help others succeed, but still, your good karma is not rewarding you.
You wonder – “Where is my share of success? Why am I lagging behind?”
Are you sure you’re not missing something critical to success?
Hold your breath…
“Selfishness? OMG!? Do I need to be selfish to get successful?”
“No. I can’t do that. It’s wrong to be selfish.”
Who told you that?
“I just know it.”
Hmm… OK, let me share with you what I know. Because just like you, I also used to believe it’s wrong to be selfish.
Over time I realized that’s not the case.
Now, before we discuss why it’s so damn important to be selfish, let me clarify what being selfish mean?
Being selfish means you take care of your needs first. That’s it!
Selfishness helps you become independent and resourceful and you can help others.
A selfish person takes good care of his body, mind, and soul – he is balanced, calm and full of energy.
He nurtures his life so he can share the best with others.
“But why would a ‘selfish’ person share?”
Because sharing makes life worth living.
Selfishness and success
Don’t give up opportunities so others can get ahead of you. Getting exploited by others is as much of a sin as it is to exploit others.
You were told it’s bad to be selfish. I say it’s not – It’s the opposite. When you start pursuing your dreams – you ultimately end up benefiting others. How can you not? You are a part of this huge orchestra called the world. For example:
- You build a business empire and end up creating countless opportunities and jobs for others.
- When you improve your health, you become an example for others to follow.
- You make a little more clean air for us to breathe in when you give up smoking.
- When you meditate, you start radiating love, which inspires others to be loving and kind.
But, if selfishness is the key to success, why selfish people are criticized?
Because we’ve forgotten its real meaning.
Being selfish has been mistaken for being mean.
‘Being aggressive’ and ‘Being assertive’ are not the same. Likewise ‘Being mean’ is not equal to ‘Being selfish.’
A mean person simply has no concern or regards for others. He just wants to exploit people. He wants to get everything, by hooks or by crooks.
On the other hand – a selfish person puts himself first without exploiting or taking advantage of others, and at the same time, also respects others’ right to be selfish.
When you’re not sure if being selfish is OK, you feel uneasy putting yourself first. (You start to believe you’re doing something wrong)
I know it’s quite natural to feel guilty about being selfish – at least in a country like India.
In our country, people are fond of songs like ‘Apne liye jiye toh kya jiye tu jee aye dil zamane ke liye.’ We consider sacrificing one’s pleasures for others sacred.
The truth is – it is absolutely natural to be selfish.
Unless you have been conditioned otherwise.
People have been fooled by the name of being nice to others.
You can only be nice to others if you are nice to yourself first. There’s no way around it.
Why become selfish?
Because it’s idiotic not to be.
The very first person you need to take care is you.
You need to take care of your health, your thoughts, your values, the words you speak and the actions you take – everything.
I know you have were made to believe things work like this:
It’s nothing but bullshit!
I don’t care if it sounds rude or harsh or whatever. Facts remain facts! (Your world exists because you exist)
What is – ‘The World’ anyway?
Let’s say 50 people are sitting in a hall. Ask them – one by one – if anyone of them is the world?
Nobody will say yes. Nobody is world and yet all are.
The world is a community of many different individuals.
Do you want to change the world? How about starting with yourself? When you work on yourself, you make this world more beautiful, more hopeful – making it better than you had found it.
Work on yourself first. Trying to help others when you yourself need help is nothing but a waste of time.
- Can you love others if you don’t love even yourself?
- Can you truly help others prosper if you’re broke?
- Can you help others succeed if you’re still struggling to achieve success?
Avoiding selfishness? Be ready for failure (a real-life example)
My father believed it was OK to put himself and his family last.
Selfishness was not his cup of tea. He ‘sacrificed’ his life for others.
I remember accompanying him to one of my aunts’ marriage function. I was only 10. I wanted to play with other kids, which you would agree, was quite natural!
But my father scolded me “Avdhesh, why have you come here in the first place – to give a helping hand or waste time playing?”
The people he wanted me to give a ‘helping hand ‘ were the ones who had been making our lives miserable. They were doing everything they could – black magic, gossiping, backstabbing and what not.
I feel bad whenever I remember that incident.
It’s not just a question of being selfish but also of self-respect. You don’t owe a helping hand to the people who mean harm to you.
The practice of lending a ‘helping hand’ cost my father the success he could have achieved had he been a little selfish.
Be careful – You may ruin your life (without even realizing it)
Do you want to change the world? We all do. Almost always, we start with the idea that we can change the world – we can do this, we can do that. We can make a difference.
You are just out of college. You have some great ideas. You want to help people. Seeing the smile on others’ faces gives you pleasure. You sacrifice opportunities so others can get them before you do. You’re living your dream – you are serving the world or so you think.
- You always feel you owe the world something – you let people ‘use’ you.
- You lag behind in studies, career, and romance.
- You waste your life living in fool’s paradise – believing you’re serving others, while in reality you are just being taken advantage of.
And then one day – when you contemplate what have you done with your life, you find yourself empty-handed. (It ain’t a delightful feeling)
Reasons why you may be ‘avoiding’ being selfish
- You’ve been conditioned against it – so you can be exploited without much difficulty.
- You’ve grown up watching your parents sacrificing their lives for others (And they were made to believe they did the ‘right’ thing).
- You simply hate yourself at an unconscious level.
There are many advantages of selfishness. Here are 3 (for a start)
- You get to know your ‘real’ feelings and emotions.
- Saying ‘no’ to unimportant things (without feeling guilty) gets easier with each passing day.
- Your capability to help your family, society, country, and the world increases, and this time for real.
In the beginning, it is difficult to accept selfishness as a way of life, but the moment you realize it is perfectly okay to be selfish – you shall be on the right track. Start taking care of your needs from this very moment.
You can choose to believe that selfishness is evil – but it will do you no good – in fact, it never had. The sooner you realize selfishness is the key to success, the better.