Successful People Practice Unselfish Thinking

I was in line waiting to pay at a book store the other day and I saw a small book on the counter.  It was called How Successful People Think, and written by John Maxwell, a prolific writer.  He has sold over 16 million books.  Because I’m a career success coach who is always looking for new information to help my career success coaching clients, I bought the book.  And I’m glad I did.    It contains some great career success advice.

Chapter 10 is titled, “Practice Unselfish Thinking.”  Relationship building is one of the success competencies in my Career Success GPS System.  I always advise my career success coaching clients to pay it forward when it comes to relationship building – to give with no expectation of return.  This is what John Maxwell is talking about when he encourages us to practice unselfish thinking.

He says that unselfish thinking…

  • Brings personal fulfillment.
  • Adds value to others.
  • Encourages your other virtues.
  • Increases quality of life – yours and others.
  • Makes you a part of something greater than yourself.
  • Creates a legacy.

I agree.  When you practice unselfish thinking you are paying it forward, and increasing the quality of your life of those around you.

John goes on to describe how to practice unselfish thinking…

  • Put others first.
  • Expose yourself to situations where people have needs.
  • Give quietly or anonymously.
  • Invest in people intentionally.
  • Continually check your motives.

I really liked one passage in the chapter on unselfish thinking…

As you go into any relationship, think about how you can invest in the other person so it becomes a win-win situation.  Here is how relationships most often play out:

I win, you lose – I win only once.
You win, I lose – You win only once.
We both win – We win many times.
We both lose – Goodbye relationship.

The best relationships are win-win.  Why don’t more people go into relationships with that attitude?  I’ll tell you why.  Most people want to make sure they win first.   Unselfish thinkers, on the other hand, go into a relationship and make sure that the other person wins first.  And that makes all the difference.

This is exactly what I’m talking about when I tell my career success coaching clients to pay it forward. 

I am a contributor to a book called 42 Rules for Creating WE.  One of the rules I contributed is “There is No Quid Pro Quo in WE.”  Here is some of what I have to say in that chapter…

This is a quid pro quo world: you do for me and I’ll do for you.  While there is nothing wrong in reciprocating a good deed or a favor, there is a fundamental problem with quid pro quo.  It is reactive not proactive.  Too many people wait for others to go first.  They adopt the attitude, “When and if you do for me, I’ll do for you.”  This scarcity mentality is not conducive to creating WE.  When you come from a scarcity mentality, you focus on holding on to what you already have.  This can prevent you from receiving what you might possibly get.

On the other hand, giving with no expectation of return comes from a proactive abundance mentality.  When you give with no expectation of return, you are acknowledging the abundance of the universe.  You are demonstrating faith that the good you do will benefit others close to you and the world at large – and that good things will come back to you.

Giving with no expectation of return is ironic.  I have found that the more I give, the more I receive; often from unlikely sources.  But that’s not my reason for giving — and I hope it is not yours.  The best reason for giving is the basic joy of making a difference in other people’s lives and in creating a WE-centric world.

In the end, giving with no expectation of return comes down to your mentality – scarcity or abundance.  If you come from a scarcity mentality, you will live by quid pro quo, and perpetuate the I-centric status quo.  If you come from an abundance mentality, you will give with no expectation of return and begin to create a WE-centric world.

I choose abundance and to take an active part in creating a WE-centric paradigm in my circle of influence.  I agree with Winston Churchill who once said, “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.”  When you give with no expectation of return you will get a good life.  You’ll also get a better world; one in which we all look out for one another.

I think John Maxwell would agree with that.

The common sense point here is simple.  Successful people are competent in four key areas: creating positive personal impact, outstanding performance, communication skills and relationship building.  As a career success coach, I believe that you build strong relationships by doing three things.  First, get to know yourself.  Use this knowledge to better understand others.  Second, pay it forward.  Or as John Maxwell says, practice unselfish thinking.  Third, resolve conflict in a manner that strengthens, rather than weakens your relationships.  Take it from a career success coach, if you practice all three of these ideas you will not only build strong, mutually beneficial relationships with the people in your life, you’ll be on your way to creating the career success you want and deserve.

That’s my take on unselfish thinking and success.  What’s yours?  Please take a minute to act unselfishly and leave a comment sharing your thoughts with us.  As always, thanks for reading.


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  1. Deshawn Warren says:

    That is one of jesus principles ! Very true.

  2. Thanks for your comment. Being unselfish is a cornerstone of all religions — not just Christianity.

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    found that it’s truly informative. I’m going to watch out
    for brussels. I will appreciate if you continue this in future.
    A lot of people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

  4. Thanks for your kind words.

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