Self Interest: The True Heart of The Matter

Posted by Bernie Reifkind on January 14, 2011

At the very core of our actions and at the heart of every thing that we do, we all act out of our own self interest, first.  I implore you dear reader to please deeply contemplate the meaning underneath this concept.  

This is not a negative rant on human behavior or about selfishness.  It’s just plain old common sense.

Do you think I am wrong?  Is acting from your own self interest “first” a bad thing?  Of course not and in fact it’s healthy.

The choices we make in life both large and small, risky or tame, for ourselves and others, whether or not we are conscious of it are born out of our own self interest, first. 

And that’s a good thing!

Even charitable acts such as volunteering and monetary donations made either publicly or privately begins with the idea that helping others is a good idea and that very good idea is born of self interest.  It makes one feel good.  It’s inspirational.  It’s necessary.  

This is not to confuse self interest with petty selfishness.  There is a world of difference in these behaviors and one has nothing to do with the other.

Self interest is primordial. 

When we become consciously aware of our actions and those of others we learn how to better interact not only socially, but in business. 

When we find out what others consider to be their own self interest we can better understand their decision making.

So how does this apply to the employment world?

Employers, we need to know our employee’s self interests but more importantly we need to analyze and recognize our own self interests, first.  What are we hoping to achieve and what are we willing to risk or invest to achieve that goal? 

Maybe we need to give an employee a “job well done” card or a pat on the shoulder when we know that someone might be struggling.  You just might be making someones day, but in fact you are acting in your own self interest first.  That’s a  good thing! A valued employee at ease might in fact motivate that same employee to succeed or exceed. 

There are difficult times in which an employer needs to terminate a long time and loyal employee, because various factors have changed over the years.  Though this is gut wrenching, it may be critical to the survival of your operation or your vision.

Who benefits, first?

The most successful people understand that helping others achieve their goals is the best way to achieve their own.  Successfull people know that people act first out of their own best interests and they have discovered what that is and how it applies in their world.

When an employer is hiring a new employee it is supremely critical to find out at the core what an applicant’s motivation is in interviewing or accepting the job.  What is their “hot button”? 

Are their interests aligned with yours?  Knowing this can be critical in not making a poor hiring decision. 

In summary, knowing that we as humans act from a place of our own self interest first is key to understanding human behavior.  Moreover, analyzing our own self interests and having that knowledge dramatically assists us in making the right choices and decisions both personally and professionally.

It’s not about what you want, it’s about what you want, the most.

I am Bernie Reifkind, CEO and founder of Premier Search, Inc.  I can be reached at 1(800) 801-1400 or email at ceo@psihealth.com.  I welcome your phone call.

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