People are getting more selfish every day.
Have you noticed?
In the US, today is Thanksgiving. Traditionally, it’s a holiday about thankfulness and family and generosity, a day to remind yourself of all the good things and people in your life.
But that’s changing.
It’s becoming more and more about gluttony. Not just sharing a meal with your family, but eating until you put yourself in a turkey-induced coma, waiting a few hours, and then doing it again. Or, if you’re really impatient, you just go into the bathroom and make yourself throw up, so you can eat some more.
Oh, and then there’s shopping. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, the best deals of the year, anywhere. You can finally buy all that stuff you don’t really need because, hey, you’re getting a deal.
Personally, I find it disturbing. Not the meals or deals, but the change of focus.
Getting food, getting full, getting a good deal, getting a discount, getting a break. Getting, getting, getting.
But what about giving?
What about focusing on other people?
What about selflessness and service and gratitude and appreciation?
It’s disappearing. Not just on holidays but in people in general.
And it bothers me. So today, I decided to take a stand.
I’m not eating a Thanksgiving meal. I’m not going shopping. I’m going to try not to think about myself at all.
Instead, I’m going to be thankful. You know, what the holiday was originally supposed to be about.
And you know what I’m most thankful for?
I don’t even know you, but you read my blog. You share posts with your friends. You buy stuff.
Without you, I would be in a nursing home somewhere, hooked up to a morphine drip, watching Jerry Springer episodes all day. That’s where guys like me are. We are shoved into a back room where no one has to watch us struggle and suffer and die.
But that’s not what happened to me.
Instead of shoving me into a back room, you put me in front of a podium. You asked me to speak. With this blog, you gave me a microphone powerful enough to reach the entire world.
In exchange, you only asked one thing:
That I tell you the truth.
Not just tips and tricks, not just the occasional truism or tidbit of wisdom, not the murky, filtered version of reality fed to us by most blogs, but brutal, unflinching, hit-me-right-between-the-eyes honesty.
And here lately, I’ve withheld it. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I haven’t been writing much over the past few months.
Partly, it’s because BBT is growing at such a rapid pace that I now spend most of my time managing other people. Partly, it’s because I worked myself nearly to exhaustion, and I’ve spent some time resting. Partly though, it’s because I’ve had some big realizations lately.
Let me tell you a little story.
I was screaming at the top of my lungs.
And I wasn’t alone. Around me, 7,000 people gave their own battle cries, their eyes shining, their voices roaring out in defiance.
That’s when the music started – music so loud I could feel it reverberating in my chest. Cheering, thousands of people began dancing, shaking the floor in their numbers.
If you’d stepped in at that moment, you would’ve thought you were at a rock concert, but you would’ve been wrong. It was a self-improvement seminar.
And I was there because an honest-to-God giant asked me to come.
A few weeks earlier, I was going through my mail and noticed a bulky envelope. My assistant opened it, and two laminated badges fell out, along with a letter from none other than Tony and Sage Robbins.
As it turns out, a friend sent my post about my mother to Sage (Tony’s wife). She loved it and asked her assistant to send me a personal invitation to attend Tony’s next seminar.
Along with two $3,000 tickets to sit in the VIP area.
So, that’s where I found myself. To the left, I saw real estate and infomercial mogul Dean Graziosi. To the right, hip-hop and R&B superstar Usher was going through the exercises like everyone else (my assistant nearly fainted when she saw him step out to go to the restroom). I’m sure lots of the other people around me were celebrities as well, but I’m not much of a celebrity watcher, so I didn’t recognize them.
The most surreal part, though?
The Giant of the Self-Improvement Industry
At 6’7″ tall and at least 250 pounds of pure muscle, Tony is quite literally a giant.
But he’s also the Energizer Bunny.
Born in 1960, he’s now 54 years old, and yet he was on stage for more than 14 hours straight. If he stepped out to go to the bathroom, he must have gone when I did because I never saw him leave.
And he wasn’t just standing there, talking. Every few minutes, he would motion to a DJ to crank up the music and stage lights, and he danced on stage. He also walked around the auditorium constantly.
I’ve never seen anything like it.
Some people say Tony is a scam artist. They say his show is just a gigantic con, and he preys on people’s desperation to manipulate them into paying him thousands of dollars.
For the record, I don’t think it’s true. He seemed totally genuine to me, but even if he wasn’t… according to Forbes, Tony is worth more than $400 million. He can afford to do anything he wants for the rest of his life.
And yet look at how he chooses to use his time.
Can you imagine walking and dancing for 14 hours straight? With no food? And then getting up the next day to do the whole thing all over again? When you absolutely DON’T need the money?
I was stunned, and to be clear, I’m not a groupie. I own three of Tony’s books, and I’ve read them all (even his new one, which is enormous), but I’ve never bought any of his products, nor did I have any ambition to attend one of his events. If not for the free tickets, I doubt I would’ve ever gone.
But I’m glad I did. It convinced me to dig into why I do what I do.
I didn’t like what I found.
The dangers of goalsetting
You’ve heard you need to set goals, right? Make them specific, write them down, review them on occasion, and all that jazz.
It sounds like good advice, and it is, but there’s also a hidden danger no one tells you about:
It can make you selfish.
When I started blogging, all I wanted to do was help as many people as possible. Everything I did from morning until night was about refining my message and then spreading it as far as possible, exclusively for your benefit.
And it worked.
The launch for this blog was the biggest in history. It’s also one of the fastest-growing blogs ever, reaching $500,000 in gross revenue in only nine months.
Somewhere along the way though, things shifted. Looking at all my success, I set new goals for the future, goals for revenue and traffic and email list growth.
Sounds innocent enough, right? After all, you probably have your own goals you’re trying to hit.
But here’s a question for you:
Are those goals about you? Or are they about your audience?
For me, everything became about numbers. Instead of thinking about helping people, I got wrapped up in quantifying my own success.
And I’m not the only one.
One of the reasons I’ve been so quiet lately is I’ve noticed that some of the things I’m teaching encourage my students to have a selfish attitude. Everything is about more traffic, more subscribers, more money.
The more I look at it, it’s just another type of gluttony. Just as Thanksgiving has been perverted to focus on food instead of thankfulness, blogging has been perverted to focus on getting instead of giving.
You want to get more traffic. You want to get more subscribers. You want to get more customers.
The secret isn’t getting. It’s giving.
The Question to Ask Yourself Whenever You Feel Lost
So, without goals like traffic and subscribers and revenue, how exactly are you supposed to move forward?
By asking yourself this one simple question:
How can you give people an experience so life-changing they will feel indebted to you forever?
Because that’s why everything else happens.
Want to get lots of traffic?
Create content so incredibly good that people feel indebted to you, and the only way they can think to repay you even the slightest bit is to share it with their friends and family.
Want to build your email list faster?
Create an incentive to join your email list that’s so incredibly that good people feel like they should have paid you for it, and so they stay on your email list for the next decade, looking for an excuse to buy anything and everything you sell.
Want to make more money?
Create a product that’s so incredibly good it helps your customers achieve things they never thought possible, creating an experience that can only be described as “miraculous.”
Or, in other words, give.
Give so much and so big that you hold your entire industry in your debt. Give so much and so big that other people laugh and call you insane. Give so much and so big that you can never be repaid, not even if your entire audience paid you every penny they earned until the day they died.
Stop thinking about yourself
When Tony Robbins gets on stage for 14 hours straight, he’s not thinking about himself. The only possible reason to do that is because it creates a better experience for the audience.
And by the way, it’s an experience like no other. I think of myself as a pragmatic intellectual, and I went to Unleash the Power Within with a great deal of skepticism, but I came out a huge fan.
Nothing mystical happened – no sudden, brain-melting epiphany or religious experience. If I had to describe it, I would say it’s like being marinated in awesomeness. For three days, I just soaked up the good vibes, and I came out a little spicier than I was before.
Tony also inspired me to rededicate myself to living my life in service of others. It’s what I used to do, but somehow I got away from it, and he pulled me back.
So, I want to do the same for you. Specifically, I want to ask you for a favor. In one word:
Instead of making your life about how much you can get, why not make it about how much you can give?
And not just today.
If you’re in another part of the world, all of this Thanksgiving stuff is meaningless to you, but you can see the selfishness, right? It’s a growing problem, not just in the USA, but worldwide.
We can’t change that, but we can decide how we want to live ourselves. We can choose to be givers instead of getters.
Personally, I’m going to spend the day writing thank-you notes to people I care about. That’s the real purpose of the holiday, after all.
Sometimes the most valuable thing you can give people isn’t money or time or information. It’s simple appreciation.
Give them your love.
Give them your thanks.
And most of all, give them yourself.
Too often, we hide our thoughts and emotions. We don’t say what we really mean. We distract ourselves with televisions and computers and other gadgets so we can avoid truly being in the moment.
But I think that’s a mistake.
We need to turn off the gadgets. We need to turn off our internal editors. We need to turn off our ruminations about the past and our worries about the future and simply be with people we love.
And if none of them are near you?
Find a complete stranger and give your love to them. They’ll think you’re a weirdo, but so what?
Normal people don’t change the world. Weirdos do.
So, let’s be weird, shall we? You and me.
Let’s be the most insanely generous givers the world has ever seen.