Years ago, when I was building my first networking business, someone said something to me that really stuck… 

Since then, there have been more than a few times that I’ve had to fall back on the meaning of that phrase in order to do what I knew had to be done. My mom raised me to be a “giver”… and that’s a good thing. I date a very special man who is also a giver… one of the many things I love about him.

But I’ve learned over the years that there must be limits on that desire to give. Not because I don’t want to assist people that are down and out or have themselves in crappy situations, but because I remember that phrase and know how very true it is…

IOU Piggy Bank

“You can’t help the poor by being one of them.”

Now, before you start sending me nasty emails and notes about how giving is better than receiving… I agree. And I have loved ones who don’t always understand my stance on this either. But if I give to the point that it hurts me and my family and puts us into the same situation as those I’m assisting, then what good am I at that point?

Yet what happens when I tell people who “need” help… whether it’s time or finances… “I’m sorry but, no”, I have people who say that I’m a selfish person… that I’m not nice. Well, I didn’t say I was nice…

Being nice is a good thing, but only when it doesn’t hurt YOU… because then you’re no good to others.

It would be “nice” if you put the oxygen mask on for the elderly lady sitting next to you on the plane who’s struggling with it… or the kids in the seats ahead of you who have no idea how to use them. But if you don’t get selfish enough to put yours on first, there’s a good chance you won’t be awake or alive long enough to lend a hand to those who need it!

In my first business, I didn’t completely get that. I made myself freely available for people to come to with questions and I’d spend however long it took with them to get those questions answered and make sure they understood everything.

Pareto 80 20 PrincipleThen I started learning that the majority of people I met and spent time with, while they had good intentions, had little or no follow-through. The 80/20 rule came into play… 20% of the people who said they were going to do something actually did it.

That meant that 80% of the time I spent assisting others in growing their business, was a waste of time… and that time could have been better spent building my own business.

I couldn’t keep doing it. Even as much as I loved teaching and showing others how to get to where I was, my personal family and business had to come first!

I had to find a way to get things balanced… A balance between making sure my own business (and therefore my son’s future) came first, while still being able to teach and assist those people who wanted to do the same thing.

That meant finding a way to determine who the 20% folks were and while it took some time, I figured it out. It’s not an exact science, but it’s worked pretty darn well for me through the years. The idea had come about when I remembered a lesson my mom had taught me back when I was 14.

My mom bought me a 10-speed bike that I’d wanted for a long time. I was thrilled, and I rode it everywhere I could. But whenever I got home, I parked it on the patio. When it would rain, mom would get mad because it wasn’t parked under the roof hangover. She told me it would rust and to start parking it under the roof.

Of course I didn’t, since the days I rode my bike were dry… did I mention I was 14?

The third time it got left in the rain (mom only EVER told me something twice), mom took bike privileges away and told me that the bike now belonged to her. The only way I could get it back was to pay her for the cost of the bike. She’d paid $75 and back then, I knew it was gonna take a while to make that happen.

And make it happen I did.

Paid StampI saved my babysitting money until the day came that I had enough to pay mom. Once I paid her, I knew she could never take it away from me again. But something funny happened too… it never once got left out in the rain again.

And that was the lesson… it means more to you (and you’ll work harder to take care of it) when YOU are the one who pays for it!

In business, I’ve found that the same thing applies. And it’s much simpler to weed out those who may waste my time from those who will use it wisely.

See if they’re willing to do anything for themselves FIRST!

For example, if someone has a ton of questions about what it takes to start a PLR business online, I’d route them over to Tiffany Lambert’s site to check out her PLRATM product. And if they’re not looking to spend money on something like that yet, I would tell them to read everything they can at Tiff’s site that she has about PLR and Ruth Pound’s site and information about what it’s taken to get started in PLR. There’s a ton of free information available from people of high integrity who have started from scratch.

And if they’re willing to go to those places, read the info and write down their questions, that shows me that they’re serious and worth spending a bit of time with to get their questions answered… and it’s taken very little time away from own business while allowing me to be helpful. That’s a WIN-WIN in my book!

I find this to be a good rule to follow in both my business and my personal life. I have a lot of goals I haven’t reached yet. And at this stage of my life, I’m just not willing to let anyone interfere with my getting there. If they’re willing to inconvenience themselves prior to using hours of MY time, then I’m certainly willing to work them into my plans, but not before.

Yep, I’m selfish that way.

Your Turn: Do you find yourself feeling guilty if you put your own needs in front of others? Do you find your own health, business, or family life suffering because you’re so busy taking care of everyone else? If so, please share here about ways you’ve found to change that or work around it. I know there are others who could use that information!

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10 Responses to Yes, I’m Selfish… And Why You Should Be Too

  1. TamsinNo Gravatar says:

    I’m selfish and have no problems with that at all, for all the reasons you’ve given above!

    I am quite happy to help out and do my bit, but I’ve learnt when to say no.

    I believe that all relationships come with responsibilities, and even in a paid client situation, there are responsibilities on both sides of who needs to do what. I am not a nursemaid and refuse to run around clients. I learnt very early on in my tax business not to care anymore about the situation than the client. That may sound harsh, but if they’re not having sleepless nights about their overdue tax return, why should I? I do what I can to get it done in time, if they don’t do their bit ……. you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink scenario.I get quite passionate about this, and am in direct contrast to my boss. Not sure if that’s a good thing or not 🙂
    Tamsin recently posted..Top 5 Halloween Pumpkin DecorationsMy Profile

    • debijNo Gravatar says:

      It’s always good to hear that I’m not alone Tamsin!

      It’s funny that you mentioned not caring more than “they” do. I remember when I first stopped folding my son’s clothes (he was much younger then). I told him that I refuse to spend time caring more about whether his clothes were wrinkled than he did… and he’s never once complained about it. He “gets” it.

      So, I figure if my own son understands that concept, I’m not losing sleep over adults who don’t want to. 🙂
      debij recently posted..Social Media 101 – Learn the TermsMy Profile

  2. RuthNo Gravatar says:

    I totally see where you’re coming from and agree with you on this point. I think when I first started I was bad at knowing how much to give, but I am getting better now. I like that little story you mentioned in the comment above about folding your son’s clothes – excellent example!
    Ruth recently posted..6 Niche Blogging Lessons (Learned by Taking Up Running as a Beginner)My Profile

    • debijNo Gravatar says:

      I think we naturally want to give… and sometimes it takes getting pushed to the limits before we realize that it’s time to take care of ourselves!

      And I’m not sure my son would agree with outing him about not caring if his clothes were folded… but he’s older now and does better with them… sometimes! LOL
      debij recently posted..Social Media 101 – Learn the TermsMy Profile

  3. Great post! Yes, I used to feel that way too. In fact, if anyone asked for information like how to start a PLR store, I’d feel guilty sending them to my plr atm site. Like I should write the whole course out in an email to answer them.

    And you DO have people who will say, “Wow I came to you for help and you point me in the direction of one of your PRODUCTS” (as if you’re a filthy scumbag for doing that. I replied that they should be thankful I took time to compile my secrets and success tips into a product that’s even available for them to buy.

    So I fluctuate. With sweet people, I feel guilty if I don’t freebie myself out – and with jerks, I put them in their place. LOL!
    Tiffany Lambert recently posted..What Fulfills You About Your Business?My Profile

    • debijNo Gravatar says:

      I’ve definitely seen both types so I get it. I had someone get really indignant at a business meeting one evening years back because one of HIS Associates had been calling to ask some questions. I asked if they’d left a message (since I didn’t recall the name). He said once so I told him to have her call again and leave a message and I’d get back to her when I had time. He made a snide remark about how easy it should be to return a call! So I proceeded to explain that between my own 100 calls per day, MY team calling with questions throughout the day and evening, along with the 10 or 15 Live Company Calls I was hosting that it just wasn’t as simple as it sounds… but that I’d be more than happy to set up a consultation time that I could start charging for if he felt it would benefit his team!

      Not sure if he got the point or not… but *I* felt better! 🙂
      debij recently posted..Social Media 101 – Learn the TermsMy Profile

  4. Max ArthurNo Gravatar says:

    It’s okay to be selfish every once in a while. You need to love yourself too
    Max Arthur recently posted..The new Play Lead Guitar My Profile

  5. There’s nothing wrong in being selfish every once in a while.

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