The Most Unselfish Thing You Can Do (Starting Today)

You can help others more by making the most of yourself than in any other way.

Jude King, PhD
Jul 1, 2019 · 6 min read
Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

There are people who respond to any talk of self-development with raised eyebrow and total disdain. They believe you have to feel broken, be lacking in self-esteem, and feel really worthless to practice self-development.

But that isn’t true. The motivation for self-improvement doesn’t have to originate from a mindset of brokenness or that you are less than worthy. The motivation should be simply that embedded in you is an enormous, almost limitless potential and that so long as you live Each and every improvement helping you tap more and more into the bottomless well of potential.

Often when you stay close to these people that profess self-help is not for them, you quickly realize they need it more than anyone else. Their relationship is so-so, their physical fitness is mediocre, their thinking is poor, their finances is so-so, their decision-making is mediocre their ability to focus is rubbish, their ability to get a job done is below par. Almost everything about them feels uninspiring. They are full of whining about how life is so unfair to them. They throw a pity party at every opportunity. In those moment you’ll discover the really funny irony that it is exactly those who repel personal development who needs it the most.

The problem is often that many people associate personal development with self-help gurus whose primary aim is to sell books or courses filled with bombastic, head-swelling drivel that are nothing more than rah-rah, feel-good motivation.

True, some people love this version of self-help: anything that would make them feel good about themselves, and escape from real issues in their lives that they lack the courage to confront. In fact, this is how are born.

The self-help junkie devours volumes and volumes of self-help material for its own sake. He doesn’t do anything with them. He enjoy reading books after books, courses after courses, but doesn’t manage to put anything he’s read into practice other than looking for more content to devour. Therefore, even after many years of reading and taking courses his finances, career, relationships, mindset have barely improved. He leaves out the most important stage of all: taking action. Therefore, all his investment in self-development is nothing more than mental-masturbation.

What Self Development Truly Is

But true self-development isn’t just consumption of rah-rah, feel-good stuff. It is a systematic process of taking action to become better, to become more in all the various aspects of life: spiritual, physical, health, relationships, career, family etc.

It is a process of feeding on things which help your personal growth, to think better, cultivate better mindset, take better actions, and get better results. It is a process of refinement and consistent improvement to become the best you can be where you set goals even lofty ones, confident you have the tools — internal and external — to bring them to life.

Looking from this perspective, Because it’s effect goes much further than improving yourself — it benefit a lot more people.

Becoming better and better, engaging more of your potential dramatically increases your capacity to contribute to others and the world at large.

  • Improving your finances means you find a way to provide more and better value. Maybe you start a business which get to benefit several hundreds, thousands or even millions of people. You use your creativity to create jobs, to impact lives just because you set out to improve your finances.
  • Your effort to get in shape improves your overall health, which means you can contribute more — and likely for longer. You can even get a confidence boost to go after some really big goals. You also get better mental clarity and improved self-image which helps your effectiveness and decision-making and therefore your ability to make a bigger and better impact. All by pursuing a seemingly selfish goal of getting in shape.
  • Your effort to improve your thinking, mindset and creativity benefits more than just you alone. With a great attitude, a positive mindset, a well-developed creative and decision-making nous, you’re fun to work with, to live with, and to do business with and therefore your partner, your family, your job, your community etc are all better for it. You make a bigger and better overall impact than you would otherwise.

As a matter of fact, one of the biggest source of motivation to do anything is to think of the contribution it makes to others. Sometimes when you struggle for motivation, getting back into the groove of things is as easy as imagining the positive impact of your actions and potential achievement on your spouse, children, proteges, community etc. Few things have the same spur-on effect.

Because the truth is, when you experience development in one area of life, almost always, it’s more than just you that benefits from it.And if you think about it, you’ll realize that

This is why making the most of yourself, trimming negative habits, installing positive ones, developing rare and valuable skills, training your ability to focus, setting goals and going after them are more than an exercise in inward-looking selfishness.

Infact, those are actually traits and skills someone with a zeal and desire to contribute will do. Because the more you can tap into your enormous potential, the better you can contribute.

An added benefit of this realization is that you’ll feel less guilty about saying “No” to the things that don’t matter. And you’ll also stop judging yourself so harshly for saying “No” when it needs to be said. Because you’ll realize that’s what you have to do — usually a lot — to be able to focus your time, energy and resources on the things that matters, in the places where you are most effective, on things where you can make the most impact.

Photo by Ivan Rojas Urrea on Unsplash

The “Self” In Self-development

“Self-help”, “self improvement”, “self-development”, “personal development”, “personal-growth.”

Do you see what’s common here?

. “.

Many people then mistake the “self” in self-development to mean being inward-looking, selfish, egotistic, caring about no one. So they logically try to distance themselves from it.

Though nothing could be farther from the truth.

The big realization here is to see that the “” in self-development is just referring to who has the responsibility.

YOU.

It just means it is you who must take responsibility for your own improvement/development, your own self-development, and your personal growth. You can’t wait for somebody to do it for you. After all, nobody knows your specific skill-set, talents, preferences and values better than you do. So it is you who must go in the driver’s seat and steer this single-occupant vehicle the best as you can, to be the best you can be.

All the while also realizing that the impact of your self-development efforts — to build better skills, to get in shape, to develop your thinking and mindset, to develop a bias for action and so on, — transcends you. Improving yourself improves your ability to contribute and also the impact of your contribution.

The reverse is also true. Neglecting your personal development is one of the most selfish thing you can do. Because your ability to contribute is severely blunted and that’s good for no one.

Understand this and you’ll see what Wallace D. Wattles, the author of was getting at when he remarked:

The very best thing you can do for the whole world is to make the most of yourself.“

Profound.

Self-development. It is one of the most unselfish thing you can do. You can help others more by making the most of yourself than in any other way.

Improve little and you can contribute little.

Improve much and you can contribute much.

If you needed another reason to exert yourself, to strive to be the best you can be, to develop valuable skills, to make the most of your enormous potential, there you have it.

The world is waiting on you.

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Jude King, PhD

Written by

Research Scientist | Entrepreneur | Teacher | Engineer driven by a deep curiosity about everything.

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +792K followers.

Jude King, PhD

Written by

Research Scientist | Entrepreneur | Teacher | Engineer driven by a deep curiosity about everything.

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +792K followers.

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