Constructive selfishness

Constructive selfishness
Photo by Bekky Bekks / Unsplash

In my reflections on the Shuttleworth Fellowship (forthcoming), I realised that I was given the gift of "constructive selfishness." The gist is: If you make things work for you, you can make things work for others as well.

Constructive selfishness includes others and means that by focusing on what you need, you can help others as well. Just being selfish disregards others, and in no way do I promote that.

I've been invited to run many a session by the Shuttleworth Foundation the past few years and the instruction was always that of constructive selfishness. What do you need or want to discuss? Focus on your needs and the conversation will be useful to you, plus others will find their own nuggets of information applicable to them.

The first time, I was wary — how could this work? Wasn't I being too self-centered? But no: Session attendees felt like they could contribute to my work and that made them feel valued. They got new insights on their problems as well, because we tend to relate to the conversation from our own perspective anyway.

To my amazement I found little on the concept of constructive selfishness when I searched for it on Google. So I mentioned it a few times in the past few weeks in conversations and I got unanimous positive responses to the idea (to not oversell it: out of three conversations). Because of that, I am now sharing it in this blog, so that more people may benefit of knowing this idea. It's in no way my idea – I was taught by Allen Gunner from Aspiration Tech, so credit is due there!

Next time you're in a situation focusing on what others need, ask yourself what you need and how taking care of yourself can be the first step to help others. That's constructive selfishness and it can help you in your relationships, work, and elsewhere.