Enlightened self-interest means to help others while being fully aware that in doing so you are also helping yourself.
Practicing ESI makes me happy, makes me feel that I am helping to create a world in which I actually want to live, but it also makes my words and actions spread more widely. For example, self-serving messages don’t get shared much on social media, but genuinely useful posts do.
To build a strong career on the foundation of ESI, focus on three elements:
- Expertise: understand your strengths and use them to help others. You must also be adept at explaining your strengths concisely.
- Sensitivity: be sensitive to the needs and circumstances of others. For example, know when to help a prospect navigate a tough personal situation rather than pushing forward in an ill-timed effort to close a deal.
- Initiative: proactively expand and deepen your network, so that you can be more effective serving others. In the process, you also create the circumstances that make it easier to fulfill your own goals.
I share these three elements to avoid the fuzziness that sometimes accompanies talk of altruism, generosity, and giving.
There can be a sense that “other-focused” people tend to spin their wheels and fail to spend enough time on their own goals. These three elements avoid such potholes. For example, initiative also includes being proactive about fulfilling the commitments you have made to your company, family, and community.
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