You not Them
Many do what they do for their family. They work hard and sacrifice because their family needs them. That’s a good reason.
Others do what they do for the cause. They pour their time, talent, and treasure into advancing an organization, program, or project that makes a difference. That’s a good reason.
Some do what they do for selfish reasons. Anger, bitterness, and resentment drive them to sabotage both themselves and others. That’s not a good reason.
If you do what you do because of others, you’ll eventually feel pushed around by others.
Do what you do because of you.
Serve your family because YOU love them not because they need you.
Give yourself to your organization, project, or program because YOU want to.
Provide services to your clients because of YOUR talent, skill, and value.
Lead because YOU want to lead.
Shifting from them to you frees you to find and provide your best to others. It may seem selfish. However, I think it’s the first step toward unselfish service. If others are the reason you serve or lead, I think your actions impose obligations. You create bondage to respond appropriately.
If you lead because of YOU and not them, both you and those you lead are free.
Is there a danger in serving or leading, “because of you?”
How can someone move from external to internal reasons for leading?
Dan this is great!
are you saying this is the the formula for balanced leadership?
Motivation is from yourself
+Purpose is for others
=Balanced, intergrated leadership
The selfless yet self focused leader
Dan — great post! Connecting within is the foundation for connecting with, inspiring and leading others!
Yes, consciously living from the inside out is the way to go, and it is a large part of my own work with others. I really don’t believe it is possible to do anything for a purely unselfish reason. Every choice is self-centered to some extent. Making them Self-centered (big “S”) is the trick. Maintaining an honest, conscious awareness of the selfish reasons we do things is empowering and supports true freedom.
There are expansive/loving selfish reasons and constrictive/fearful selfish reasons.
An example of an expansive/loving selfish reason is writing blogs that uplift others, because they uplift me in the process.
An example of a constrictive/fearful selfish reason is me looking at another person and saying, “You have to do this to make me happy…”
Thanks for writing about this important understanding.
I appreciate how Alan Hill summarizes it in his comment: It’s about balance. I also appreciate Mark Petruzzi’s comment that selfishness can be expansive/loving or constrictive/fearful.
We are here both to serve others and fulfill our own potential. If you lean too far in either direction, you blow it.
It is interesting that Buddhist monks, fully withdrawn from the world and seemingly entirely on a path of developing their own potential, daily renew their dedication to serving others, and will tell you that their primary motivation is service. In their view, they can offer the most service in future lives by getting strong in this life.
Similarly, we can periodically withdraw to focus strictly on our own needs…so that we can better serve others. It’s a balance of effort over time, becoming the best we can be for the benefit of others, and enjoying the richness that service and self-development brings to our own lives.
Any parent knows that. Sometimes you need time alone so you can be fully present for the ones who matter later.
“You Not Them” is an interesting post Dan , especially when compared to the post I shared on October 9th: “News Flash – It’s not about YOU.” http://bit.ly/b5UbrV
If you just looked at the titles, you would think that these two messages are diametrically opposed. Yet they are not.
Leadership that is focused on “them” and not “you” is a choice. And it is important that we make that choice for the right reasons.
My opinion – is very good to find “you” first, like a human, manager or other roles in your life in order to give properly your emotions, your managerial abilities, or your other skills to community which surrounds you.
Very good the article.
I like the post. The key is balance. The only biblical leadership model is servant leadership but it needs to be framed properly. Great thoughts though and I see it is creating a lot of conversation.
Your insight applies to far more than just leadership. It is the kernel of happiness and inner peace.
I think it gives teens and young adults strength against peer pressure. I would love it if you would add it to the list of “lessons learned” in the post about “Future 4 Teens & GEN Y” http://bit.ly/aGdm2T .
Your concise writing style has communicated volumes on this key thought.
EXCELLENT! Having to and wanting to are very different. And knowing the difference is very powerful. When someone says, “Why do you have to ….” I reply, “I am doing this because I ‘want’ to not because I ‘have’ to.” It’s all in the mind set.
“If you do what you do because of others, you’ll eventually feel pushed around by others.”
Everything you said sounded great – it’s just that you based it all on the assumption quoted above. So I guess my question is…says who?
Peoples motivations are dynamic and complex things. Some very effective leaders appeared (to me anyway) to have no concern but the concerns of others as their motivations. Did Gandhi and Mother Theresa feel “pushed around” by those they served so selflessly? I don’t know. But neither does anyone else.
In the end, let whatever motivates you to do something motivate you. The world is probably just glad that you contribute, whatever your reason.
This post is loosely connected to issues of Locus of Control.
Having said that, I take full responsibility for what is written. The answer to “says who?” is just me. The things I wrote about are a combination of experiences and education.
If you read much of Leadership Freak you’ll say others freely offering up their own point of view. Even when I disagree with them or they disagree with me, I still deeply enjoy the conversation.
thanks for your comment.
leadership isn’t for everyone, however, what if you don’t want to lead. What if you just want to live, that’s all. Help others when it’s warranted and matches your obligations (financial, family etc)
Sometimes I think we get so caught up in being something, either better, popular, successful, rich and we forget to just live.
Nicely said. For me, just living is thinking about, learning about, and exercising effective leadership. 🙂
Best to you,
I believe that serving and leading are two side of the same coin. One can not lead without serving. Serving comes first and that provides opportunity to lead. So, there may not be danger in serving but it might be in leading without serving. You connect with people while serving whereas leading may not connect people with you. Servant leaders are the classic examples of serving and leading. They serve and lead both. There are other examples too. Charismatic leaders, They create impression and magic effect very fast, but it is harder to create sustainable impact.
I think one can move from external to internal reasons for leading through focusing inward. Focusing inward means searching for causes that encourages, energizes and inspires you. One has to look for cause that makes one happy, dedicated and committed.
Really good one Dan…
Have to ponder this one Dan…was thinking along the same lines as Mario.
And, as M.P and others note, the paradox of spending more time on yourself allows you to spend more time on others. However, still have to balance (props Alan) both and not ignore one to the other.
Over time, age, experience and hopefully, wisdom, how does this change? I know how self-centered I was pre-25, seems not so much now. So, how do we change?
As far as the shift from them to me…used to do lots of individual and small group work until I was sucked in the parallel universe that is leadership. One day, I was lamenting to my leader, missing those light bulbs going on above folks heads and really seeing healing. She suggested a reframe of, “now you get to help a larger ‘entity’ both heal and help others and they need you to lead the way so that they can do the work they do. This work helps many more.”
While that did help in the moment, still have to experience the more immediate 1:1 and small groups to ensure we are all on the same page. Seeing that work recharges me and helps me to paint the vision more vividly. Guess I am saying, as leaders we do need to keep shifting from internal to external and back again.
Thanks again for your thoughtful contribution.
I think others mentioned nothing is purely selfless. I remember my sociology teacher explaining that if we get something out of being selfless we aren’t really selfless. I think it’s a silly point.
Mature people enjoy serving others. Mature people tend to focus on the needs of others.
Perhaps “maturity” helps explain the idea that not needing another’s approval yet serving them anyway sets both parties free.
You have my regards,
Doc is a featured contributor on Leadership Freak. His bio is at http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/doc
Oh my goodness- I see this so often. It really is a fast way to burnout when you feel as though nothing you do is for yourself. I would strongly encourage anyone feeling like this to find something they enjoy- some outlet that they can do just for themselves. It can be noble to provide for your family, wrap yourself into others schedules & do things to make others happy. There can be enjoyment in that- but when there is nothing in return- it definitely leads to a bitter old soul.
I’m glad you brought the term burn out to the discussion. It’s not the same as feeling pushed around but feeling burned out may certainly result from feeling pushed around…as well as many other negative emotions.
Best to you,
This is a trick one. Stephen Covey talks about it in the 7 Steps. You have to balance self-care with care for others. You have to love because you want to. You have to give because you want to. To be able to do those things, you have to love and care for yourself enough to be able to give of yourself.
An important reminder and a great post. Thank you!
Nicely said. You are so right. Self love could become selfishness and loving others could become martyrdom.
Thanks for leaving your first comment.
Love is a very powerful tool! I say love that has adjectives is incomplete. When you simply Love, you cannot tell the different between self and others. You just love because you love – that’s it.
Elizabeth Barret Browning said, Love me for loves sake only… 🙂