I was raised to be a good Catholic girl and true to form, I readily adopted the altruistic approach to life. Turning the other cheek, putting others before myself, forgiving those who trespassed against me (so to speak). And I really believed that such behavior was the right thing to do, that putting the interests of others before my own somehow served a higher purpose.
And I carried my altruism into adulthood – still believing that others would act in kind toward me. However, recently I’ve come to realize that in fact people just think you are a doormat and have low self esteem when you act that way. Believe me, I have the battle scars to prove it.
Little did I realize that as a child I set the pattern for being continually exploited and used for the benefit of others and just could never understand why I didn’t get anywhere. And while pondering this recently I realized that I have never really tried to serve my own best interests.
Now, I don’t mean this in an arrogant or haughty way. I don’t propose that anyone, myself included walk around with the attitude that they are the best thing since smart phones. However, a good healthy dose of self value can go a long way.
If you study successful people, whether they are business magnates, inventers, artists, or celebrities you will find that they have good self esteem, understand their strengths and weaknesses but most importantly act in their own best interests. Meaning that they are motivated by what will be best for them. And if you study the average Joe, you are likely to find the opposite.
For example – how many people out there practically kill themselves for their jobs? A woman hired as a administrative assistant for example, allows her employer to exploit every ability she has (most of which were not included in the job description) all for the privilege of making $13 per hour and feeling like she was run over by a truck at the end of every week. This hypothetical woman is not only not serving her own best interests but likely also feels unappreciated, underpaid and overworked. However, none of that could have happened without her consent. And ironically, this type of scenario is probably more frequent with really capable and competent people because of course, they naturally have a larger skillset. Competent people are proactive, do not require supervision, like to learn, tend toward activities that improve their skill and abilities.
In my case, I always believed that if I showed a prospective or employer what I was capable of then he or she would naturally offer me more money and opportunities, a better office and benefits package. In reality, they just figured they were getting a better deal and only worked at extracting more work, talent, and creativity for the same bargain basement price.
In the case of clients, you at least have the option of finding better clients who are willing to pay you what you are worth – in a job not so much. An employer is always going to frame things in such a way that you will feel that they are somehow doing you a favor by providing a job to you. And that you should feel grateful for the work and allow them to extract every possible talent you possess into a benefit for them.
But you know what? You don’t have to do that. I’m not suggesting you quit your job or demand an enormous pay raise but I am suggesting you act in your own self interest.
Obviously a job is beneficial because it does provide the wherewithal to pay your rent, put gas in your car and buy food. These are good things and we all need them. However, you can have your own game plan. You can accept a job and in accepting that job determine what you are willing to exchange for that job. In other words, you don’t have to reveal every talent you possess only the ones you are required to have in order to perform your duties. Don’t offer ideas, or mention other talents unless it means you will improve your situation. Believe me, if you feel you have to prove something to your employer you are already the underdog and you will spend your nights and weekends proving just how good you are and still never get anywhere.
My new attitude is that I will work a job because it benefits me. And that I will continue to work the job until it stops benefitting me. Or I decide I will work for this employer for this length of time until I can gain the money, experience or some other benchmark to get a position that will benefit me greater. What is really amazing is the difference I feel in the adoption of this new attitude. I no longer worry about jobs or clients, or what they do or don’t think of me. I don’t worry proving anything to anyone. I simply do the work and when I’m done, I leave it there. My free time is now once again my own and I have to say I like it.
How about you? Do you serve your own best interests?