Putting yourself first means you’re smart, not selfish


My first of “ten lessons learned in ten years in business” was to Put Values First.  Today I want to talk about Putting Yourself First.

I’ve invested a lot of time and energy in my career, throughout my life, trying hard to give back to others.  One of my early professional mentors taught me about servant leadership and I strive to live that with my employees, customers, partners, peers, family and others.

But it’s a bad idea to spend all of your energy serving others without prioritizing yourself.

The longer I do this, the older I get and the more mistakes I make, the more I realize I need to prioritize what I want, what I need, first and foremost.

This isn’t a selfish act.  When done well, it’s actually the complete opposite.

By defining and prioritizing what I need for myself, I free more of my time and energy to serve others.  Even better, when I can find people and priorities that align with my personal interests and objectives, I serve two objectives at the same time.

I’ve had the benefit of defining our company’s initial core values, and obviously having a strong say in how they evolve.  But even if you don’t own your company,  you can choose to join one that fits your values, that prioritizes what you prioritize.

This includes core values, work ethic, respect for boundaries (including time, weekends, however you and they define it).

Time does fly by quickly but there are plenty of hours in the day to take time for yourself and still serve your team, serve your family, serve your community.  The more these priorities align the better, but mindfulness and intentional living can allow you to serve multiple sets of priorities and pulls on your time.

But without defining and prioritizing what you need first, you won’t have nearly the same passion, energy, zeal and productivity for the servant leadership acts you do for others.

If you haven’t done so before, or haven’t done so lately, take some time to write down what’s important to you.  What do you value, what do you need, what do you want.  Figure out how to define these needs and wants as specifically and measurably as possible.

Once you have them defined, map them against the other priorities in your life, in your day, in your job.  Take the time to communicate these personal priorities to those around you – especially your family and possibly your manager as well.

I guarantee there is more synergy than you may think today, more “give” from other priorities than you may expect.

By putting yourself first, time serving others becomes time you relish vs time you resent.