What’s in it for me?

May 7, 2014

What’s in it for me? 
Or, to put it more bluntly: “The world revolves around me, don’t you know that!?!” or “I’m really important, didn’t you get the memo?” 
We may not come out and say those words, but we communicate this attitude in a variety of ways. Sometimes, it’s the flippant “I don’t care” comment to those you lead. Other times, it’s ignoring a minor problem that eventually turns into a crisis.
More often, or maybe most often, it’s avoiding an important relationship because you have less to gain from the outcome than the other party. We (I) don’t think beyond myself all that often. I believe we could benefit greatly by taking our eyes off ourselves and opening our hearts and time to the needs of those around us.

That sounds good…but, back to me. 

Why would I do that? What am I going to get out of it? We are probably in the habit of leading with those questions as we think through situations. But what if our first questions were, “What can I give?” or “How can I help?”. In a world where most of the messages we hear center on how to build yourself up, pursue your dreams, and live your most fulfilled life, these questions might feel counterintuitive. On my best days I understand this but on most days I’m still learning.

Five ways to counteract the plight of me-ism.

1. Find someone to serve today. It might be your boss, your kids, your assistant or your spouse. Find something you can do to meet a need of theirs. We usually know what these things are when we take a minute to stop and think about it. Serving is where it’s at, the most powerful antedote to me-ism.

2. Deflect the attention off yourself. Who can you make look good today? Find someone on your team and call them out for killing it. I’m not saying embarrass them completely but find an opportunity to praise someone else, earnestly.

3. Invest in someone else’s success. Someone around you is stuck and needs to borrow your mind. You’ve got a thought they need that can help them move forward. Seeing someone get unstuck is one of the best feelings in the world.

4. Confront something that is hurting the mission. Fighting me-ism is not just serving, praising and helping someone else. Sometimes it’s about confronting someone or something that is opposed to healthy progress. There are never a lot of accolades in putting yourself in harms way but sometimes it’s the most important thing you can do. 

5. Listen, and listen again. Actually hearing the words, and the words behind the words is powerful. What’s in it for me type thinking doesn’t listen well because listening requires taking a back seat in the conversation. It gives the other person the microphone and platform while you observe and listen. Good listening isn’t passive though, it should engage every part of you; a heart that empathizes, hands that are ready to help and a head thoughtful on how to respond.

Which of these five points really stuck out to you? Don’t just file it away and assume you’ll remember it, pick a person or situation to invest in today and see how shelving the “what’s in it for me” attitude changes the game.