This Post is Selfish

July 13, 2017 v4 p27

Whether it’s in someone’s personal or professional life most people are always looking out for one thing.  Usually that one thing is themselves, but that usually isn’t what gets the best results.

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One of the most transformational books I’ve read over the past couple of years is “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey.  One of the biggest principals he teaches is to begin anything you do with the end in mind.  I took that to mean for me to see the whole picture, not just how things would look when I was done.  In that whole process you must take in to account how your actions will end up effecting other people.  To me if you get something accomplished, at work or at home, and it caused more work or a hardship for other people, then it really didn’t accomplish what needed to be done in the first place.  If you only do what’s best for you to achieve a (your) desired result then you haven’t done what’s best.  I put the word “your” in there because often times what is best for you isn’t often the best for the whole.  If you aren’t trying to make your efforts improve everything for everyone then your efforts are selfish.

The CEO of Service Express Inc., Ron Alvesteffer, will tell you that one of his favorite quotes on leadership comes from Zig Ziglar.  It goes, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”  This has far more implications than just in leadership within the business world.  One of the reasons I help out with so much at my church, volunteer with the Boy Scouts of America, and do all of the charitable work I do is because I see how what I do makes things better for others.  It truly is a great feeling when you see that.  I try to do that at work too, but not everyone seems to see things the way I do.  Having spent almost a decade in a manufacturing environment it was common practice not to cause a stir.  If you were to point out ways that people were causing the systems to fail it would put a target on your back.  Regardless of if you were right about that or not, you were just better off to adjust your attitude and move on.  I’ve been given the assurance that isn’t the case at my current job.

I’ve been doing a lot of studying lately on Lean processing and other supply chain management tools.  All of the principals that I have been reading about are right in line with what I have been trying to implement at work.  I’ve been focusing on my own department, finding small areas that we could improve throughout the warehouse.  As I have been helping my team to be more efficient I am starting to see how other areas of the company that I have to deal with are causing inefficiencies.  The problem is that the main culprit doesn’t seem to be aware of the extra work he causes.  Any other time I’ve seen people try to approach him about changing work habits it hasn’t been received well.  The biggest principal about all of this process improvement I’ve been studying is that it’s most difficult to get people to buy into the fact that there is a need for change.  Most people are set in there ways and don’t want to admit that they may be wrong about something, or that someone else may have a better solution.  I get it.  Nobody likes to be wrong.  Nobody likes to be corrected.  My guess would be that if you asked them if they like to create unneccesary work for others they would say they don’t.  Unless they’re just out right selfish.

So that whole paragraph kind of sounded like a rant about one of my coworkers, and it kind of was, but it is something that will be addressed.  The issue with all of this self-centered thinking is really what it causes outside of the immediate action.  When people leave those situations and then continue to have a selfish attitude it translates to other areas of their life.  It causes them to be short tempered in areas like driving.  I’ve made it clear that I believe road rage is a root cause to a lot of problems in our society.  When you carry a selfish attitude into other areas it really starts to compound.  If you’ve ever read “The Compound Effect” by Darren Hardy you know how this can apply.  For those of you who haven’t, let me sum it up.  The compound effect is the principal that says if you take one penny and then double it every day for 30 days you would end up with more money than if you had taken $1,000,000.00 on day 1.  Most people are looking for the quick answer and aren’t patient enough to see the effects of this principal.  This can also have a negative effect as well.  If one small, negative thing doesn’t get corrected right away then over enough time it will become a bigger problem.  There is no way around that fact.  I’ve seen it happen to myself.  I’ve seen it happen to others.  I’ve seen it happen in both directions for businesses as well.

This brings me back to a lot of what I’ve been writing about lately.  When we act in this selfish manner we don’t live the way Christ taught us.  The more people force everyone to give them what they want without giving anything in return, the more self-centered out society becomes.  This leads to women dressing in more immodest clothes.  When men ridicule women who don’t dress that way it’s for their own selfish reasons.  What that can lead to is a dark path towards the wrong thing.  Men force women to do things they don’t want to do, maybe not physically, but emotionally.  When women give in to what the men want they usually do it to get attention.  This isn’t the true love that they are truly seeking.  When the men realize that they only like a woman because of how she looked when they met they will eventually get bored.  Without that emotional connection that is gained from courtship they will move on to the next “shiny” object that catches their eye.  This causes the first woman to then ask what it was that she did wrong to cause that, often spiraling out of control.

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Jesus gave us the 11th Commandment to “Love one another as I have loved you.”  Not to love one another only if it benefits you.


It Pays to Just Keep It Up

I see a lot of people try a lot of new things.  I see a lot of people who try those things and then end up just giving up, way too early.

I recently read the book “The Compound Effect” by Darren Hardy.  He speaks about how things tend to compound themselves over time.  He used the metaphor of whether or not you should choose a one time lump some of three million dollars, or to take a penny the first day and the double that the next, and so on for 30 days.  If you haven’t heard this metaphor before, you should choose the second option.  It takes until almost the last week of those 30 days before you start to see that you’ve made to correct choice, but by the time the entire 30 days are over you will get way more than your other option of a $3,000,000 up front.  I’ve taken this approach to my life in many ways, but I’ve only recently realized that recently.


I remember being sick one day back in middle school.  The biggest thing I missed that day was actually in band and not in one of my normal academic classes, and not because my father held a master’s degree in music education.  The day I missed, my band director went over a particularly difficult scale with the trumpet section.  I found out a couple of days later that we would be individually performing that scale to earn chair positions.  I initially didn’t think too much of it.  I was a pretty decent trumpet player and could read music so I didn’t think I’d need much practice.  Well, try-out day came and I bombed.  I was nervous because I hadn’t practiced, and because I was the only one playing an instrument in front of 85 of my classmates.  I was mad at myself.  There were a couple of other people absent that day in my section so I knew the band director would be offering them a chance to play, so I asked if I could have a second chance since I wasn’t there the day he initially went over this scale with the whole section.  He agreed and I knew what I had to do.  Band was my first class of the day so I would get in there 10-15 minutes early every morning and work.  I started out by slowing the entire scale down so I knew I would be hitting the correct notes.  Once I could do that from memory I began speeding up my scale until I could get to the point where I could play the entire scale at whatever tempo I wanted, with my eyes closed.  The day came to play again and I knocked it out of the park.  That was the first time I compounded my time to gain something.

Another place I like to compound my efforts is in the gym.  I’ve learned over the years that if I try to change things up too much I end up either not getting what I expected out of my workouts or I injure myself.  Recently I rehabbed a nagging, recurring injury in my lower back.  Through that process I’ve learned what my body needs to keep myself from causing that injury to flare back up.  By gradually increasing what I did at the gym over time I could feel my lower back getting stronger.  Once that started to get itself back into shape I could start to feel other parts getting back into shape.  The human body really is an amazing machine.  I got myself back up to full speed about two weeks ago and now have started pushing that top limit of where my exercises are.  I’m still not to where I was four years ago when I was performing at my peak.  I’m being more intentional in the changes to my workout routine and making sure I am ready to move on to the next level.

Probably the biggest impact I’ve seen on my life by compounding things has come in my employment.  I was laid off from my job at Meijer (a major bog box retailer in the Mid-West) after they went through a pretty major management restructuring.  At the time I was in the middle of building a house, so I took the unemployment and spent that summer working on that.  When fall came and it was time to reenter the workforce I told my wife I was going to try to find the highest paying job with the least amount of responsibility I could find.  That lead me to a warehouse job through a temp agency at one of the world’s largest automotive suppliers.  I never planned on that job being anything long-term, but I knew I needed a paycheck.  I vowed to show up at my job every day and do my best every day.  I would hope everyone does that but I quickly learned they didn’t or there best wasn’t up to the same standard as mine was.  I never thought I was doing anything extraordinary but just by showing up and doing the best I could it compounded my results.  There was a time of about four years where I was given a promotion and a raise every seven to nine months.  By repeating the same things over and over I had advanced myself at that job as far as I could without someone retiring, dyeing, or me moving to a different location.  The down side to that job was, once I reached that level I was being lead by people who weren’t very strong leaders.  I started to follow in their foot steps and it actually caused me to fall backwards in my leadership abilities.  I lost a lot of confidence in myself and once I could see how much it was causing problems in other areas of my life I walked away.

Sarah Turner

I have since regained my confidence and have been lead by a great group of leaders in the right direction.  I look for ways I can compound my results now in everything I do.