I have to admit that one of my greatest rewards is totally egocentric. I smile big time when I see something I taught years ago come back to me as a demonstrated behavior from one of my protégés. I would love to believe that it is just the pure, unadulterated joy that comes from seeing someone else grow but if I am being totally honest, it’s not.
One of the most practical, perspective changing books I have read was a simple little collection of practical advice that you are likely familiar with called Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff… and it’s all small stuff by Dr. Richard Carlson. If you have this book go now to page 23 and ingest what the good doctor has to say. On this page it is requested that one “Do something nice for someone else – and don’t tell anyone about it.” Seriously, no one, not even your spouse. It is very eye opening how hard this can be.
I took that page to heart many years ago and can honestly say that I attempt to do this every day (but it ends up being more like a couple of times a week). Here’s the great life lesson I have learned from those many years. Wait for it…
I have a large ego.
It became apparent to me how often I do things for others with the secret hope that it comes back to me as some reward. How many times does one tell another “I love you” expecting to be reaffirmed with the same response? Giving is more rewarding than receiving because you ultimately get something in return. So giving is receiving?
I recently discovered the hidden motivation I have in mentoring when someone I have been working with for many years attributed something we had worked on many years ago to someone else they had met within the past year. First I sank, then I sulked and finally I somehow came to grips that it shouldn’t matter.
But it did.
Then I realized the other great thing I discovered.
I have a large ego
(and you probably do to).
There’s a correlation between why over half of the 100 items in Carlson’s self-improvement book have some tie-in to our ego and that it was a national best seller. We all wrestle with our egos. Knowing that frees each of us to do something about it.
Don’t get me wrong, ego has its place as a great motivator when you need to accomplish the unimaginable and other targeted areas. On a day-to-day basis, though, I find that it gets in the way more than it helps. It is like that tool you have in the basement that is so specialized and of great value when you need to do that specific task, but most of the time it is best kept in reserve and not in a prominent location where other tools should be.
Challenge of the Day
Do something nice for someone else – and don’t tell anyone about it. Then report back here not what you did (that would violate the intention) but what you learned.