Everyone is a bit selfish with one eye always on their own personal objective – WIIFM – What’s In It For Me? It’s human nature, survival of the fittest. It doesn’t mean it’s always at someone else’s expense but it does explain why we are caught in moral dilemmas from time to time, feeling that being selfish is wrong but so right at the same time!
Is it selfish to be focused on What’s In It For Me or is it just human nature – Selfish doesn’t equate to being bad it’s just a singular focus? As a child we are chastised for not sharing our toys and playing nicely with others, in a team sport it’s all about the team performance on the day and the result rather than the individual, whereas in life in general it’s always about the individual and what they create around them.
On the one hand in the world of negotiation 101 and getting the best package and the best deal for you, clearly you are focused on your best interests, looking out for number 1 – being selfish. Two names spring to mind who have both written extensively on the subject – Simon Hazeldine http://simonhazeldine.com/ and Derek Arden http://derekarden.co.uk – here as with many negotiations skills specialists they focus on the win-win solution, the long term play. The win at the other’s expense is short-termism and will catch you out in the end, estate agents and recruiters regularly get tarred with this brush of short term wins, which implies being selfish can be a bad thing.
By contrast in the world of speaking at conferences and events, here the challenge is to engage the audience and relate to them, unfortunately many many speakers across the planet haven’t worked this bit out and think it’s about them. Standing in front of an audience of tens, hundreds or even thousands the speaker needs to be engaging and in turn they then become memorable for all the right reasons.
Not a problem then – however every single person in the audience has their own agenda, they really don’t care about the speaker, their story, their cleverness or their invention. They are all sitting there saying please be good and make this relevant to me I could be somewhere else doing something far more important rather than potentially wasting my time listening to you. The audience clearly has a very selfish or personal agenda. Is this a bit harsh or is it just me?
Scary – and you wonder why so many people have a fear of speaking in public when the whole audience is focused solely on their needs and what they want from the event? – WIIFM.
When a speaker gets this wrong they’re uninteresting, preaching about their own cleverness or not relating to me in any way, I’ve written new speeches, newsletters or proposals. A great place for uninterrupted focus without the chance of someone walking in or the phone going off – marvelous (but not for the speaker)
How does this relate to you in your business life today? Being selfish isn’t all bad and isn’t all good and you clearly don’t need my permission to get on with your life and stop worrying about some unhelpful moral dilemma. If you need permission to be a little more selfish or more focused on the best results for you then what is it you are looking for? Who is going to help you get there? Previously I have written about who’s got your back – surround yourself with people looking out for you and holding you accountable for the things you need to be doing rather than feeding BS to anybody that will listen.