Part of the preflight ritual you have likely experienced if you have ever traveled via airplane is the directions regarding the oxygen masks. As it is explained, in an emergency situation when the oxygen masks deploy, you are always to put your own mask on first before helping those around you who are unable put their own mask on. Perhaps these directions have bugged you a bit. After all, isn’t it kind of selfish to let a small child sit beside you unaided while you, who are able bodied, place your own mask on first? It isn’t really selfish, though if you think about it the right way. For example, if you choose to put the mask on the small child beside you first, but while doing so pass out due to your own lack of oxygen, you not only harm yourself, but you also put the child’s life in danger. In other words, when you take care of yourself first, it makes it possible for you to take care of, or serve, others. That is why you should be a selfish servant.
Rob Rosen, author of “Grounded: How Leaders Stay Rooted in an Uncertain World,” says the following about putting yourself ahead of others:
“When you take care of yourself first, you show up as a healthy, grounded person in life.”
Melissa Deuter, who is a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Texas Health and Science Center agrees with Mr. Rosen’s thoughts, she recently said the following about the human’s natural tendency to be selfish and why it’s not such a bad thing:
“Selfish is an ugly word, but it can mean two different things. One connotation is that you’re unkind and inconsiderate of others. The other is that you take responsibility for getting your personal, emotional and physical needs met, and that’s an important part of becoming an adult.”
As you can see from the statements of these two extremely knowledgeable individuals, being selfish can be advantageous. The following are four benefits you will experience when you become a “selfish servant”:
You Will Become a Healthier Person:
When you always give of yourself, never taking any time to improve your own health and wellbeing, you begin to suffer the consequences health wise. You might consider taking the time to work out or travel selfish, but according to Mr. Rosen, it actually makes you healthier. Of course, this in turn makes you a better boss, employee and friend. When interviewing executives for his book, Mr. Rosen discovered a common thread between them all. They were all good leaders and in good health, because they made themselves a priority.
It Makes You More Driven:
Various studies have revealed the correlation between people who are confident and successful. Confident, selfish people, it seems aren’t as likely to give up on their lifetime goals or dreams. Consequently, they are more driven and determined. Dr. Rosen agrees with this theory and states, “selfish people have a drive to succeed.”
You Will Have Greater Relational Success:
This point might seem counterintuitive. You might wonder how a selfish attitude can be good for a relationship. However, Mr. Rosen says that being selfish isn’t only a good trait to have in a relationship, it’s actually quite necessary, “ To be a healthy, grounded person, you need to be selfish. If you’re looking to a partner to fulfill your emotional needs, your relationship is vulnerable. The best relationships happen when two adults show up and enjoy each other.” In other words, selfish people don’t depend on another person for their self-worth and contentment, but instead are happy to simply be with another person.
You Will be a Happier Person:
Selfish people typically spend more time doing things they enjoy, so they are happier. They don’t worry so much about what someone else might want them to do either. Instead, they live their life to please themselves. Now, this can go to the extreme of course. We all have to do things we don’t want to do on occasion. However, as professor Deuter put it, “If you have a well-developed sense of who you are, what you enjoy and the ability to communicate this to others, you will be a happier person. Putting yourself first is not a negative quality; it’s your job to take care of yourself and get what you need.”
Yes, it’s good to care about and serve others. It is also nice to give of yourself. However, if you never take time for yourself, you will eventually be unable to give anything else, because there will be nothing left to give. That’s why the truly successful servant is a selfish one.