Thomas Leonard, Founder of “Coach University” and widely considered the grandfather of the coaching movement, said it is a good idea to become “incredibly selfish”.
Creating your ideal business and living your ideal lifestyle are selfish acts, however, as you will soon see, the type of “selfishness” that I am referring to will ultimately empower you to be more generous than you have ever been before.
The word “selfish” has a negative connotation for most people. One dictionary definition of selfish is “caring unduly or supremely for oneself… regarding one’s own comfort, advantage, etc., in disregard or at the expense of, that of others.” However, Thomas Leonard meant something entirely different.
“Selfishness”, as defined for our purposes, ultimately allows you to be more generous and supportive of others. Selfishness, as we are using the word, is a conscious choice. It is not being driven by unmet needs, without choice. It is about building a reserve and taking excellent care of yourself, so that you are more resourceful, powerful, and attractive. Then, you can be of service in a more effective and sustainable way.
A great metaphor is the oxygen mask on an airplane. Whenever you begin a flight, the flight attendant always coaches you, that in the event of an accident, if you are with a child, first place your own oxygen mask on, then help the child with their mask. Obviously, you might pass out if you don’t take care of yourself first, and then you would not be able to help the child or anyone else.
You are distinct from the roles you play in your life. Some examples of the roles you may play include: mother, father, son, daughter, brother, sister, student, teacher, supervisor, employee, member, team mate, boyfriend, girlfriend, coach, client, etc. Being selfish in a healthy way often requires restructuring your roles, thereby making more room for you to grow.
Being selfish does not mean “being a jerk”. It doesn’t mean being pitiless, cold-hearted, unwilling to help less fortunate people out of their circumstances. It does mean building yourself a base that will give you the power to be generous, without the burnout syndrome that plagues so many people with good-hearted intentions.
You can be extremely selfish without being either egocentric or insensitive. Most of us have to overcome some of our social conditioning before we can feel good about being selfish. It’s worth the effort.
“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
Exercise – Do Something Very Selfish Each Day
This exercise is from Thomas Leonard’s book “The Portable Coach”.
Make a list of seven things you really want, but haven’t been able to let yourself have. It doesn’t matter if they are tangible or intangible. First, decide you deserve them. Second, go grab them, one item a day, every day, for seven days in a row.
This will build the “muscle” necessary for taking excellent care of yourself and building your reserves.