3 positive ways to be selfless by being selfish with your time
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were kinder to one another; if we looked out for the best interest of others over our own; if we were more selfless? This might surprise you but I believe selflessness starts with selfishness. Or in other words, be Selfish in order to be Selfless.
I’ll get to the concept of Selfish Selflessness in a moment but first I would like to tell you a story about my parents.
When I was young, one of the qualities of my parents that made a lasting impression on me was their selfless devotion to service.
I have memories of chicken barbecues, Dad taking boxes of oranges and grapefruit to work for a fundraiser or watching Mom prepare and coordinate meals for families.
It seemed like they were always doing something for someone else. And they were always doing something selfless for my brother, sister and me. At my Dad’s funeral, I learned about the things he had done for others. Things he never told anyone else about. That selfless attitude is something my wife and I have tried to imitate and pass onto our boys.
Most people I know will drop whatever they’re doing in order to help someone in need. But can we do better? That’s not to dismiss those impromptu acts of kindness, NOT at all!
What I’m suggesting is this. Can we purpose and plan to put ourselves in a position SO THAT when an opportunity presents itself, we’re ready to be selfless?
I think we can. I’ve seen others do this and I’ve personally been the recipient of their selflessness. And I know how amazing it feels.
Think about this. Would it be possible to look at selflessness in a selfish way? In other words, in how many ways can I be selfish in order to be more selfless? And what could I be selfish about to put me in a position to be more selfless?
One more thing…
Before we continue, I want to clarify my approach to this topic. I realize the word selfish has an immediate negative connotation. None of us want to be thought of as a selfish person in that way.
However, I want to look at selfishness this way. If you’ve ever flown on a commercial airline, you probably have seen a safety flyer like this or can repeat the flight attendant’s instructions about oxygen masks.
“In the event of a decompression, an oxygen mask will automatically appear in front of you. To start the flow of oxygen, pull the mask towards you. Place it firmly over your nose and mouth, secure the elastic band behind your head, and breathe normally… If you are traveling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask on first, and then assist the other person. Keep your mask on until a uniformed crew member advises you to remove it.”
Could this be viewed as positive selfishness? I believe so. And that’s how I want to consider this concept.
Not in a negative disregard for others but rather selfishness that puts us in a position to better serve others. I believe there is a difference.
The Two-Minute Warning Principle
Disclaimer: The following story contains some football references. However, whether you are a football fan or not, there are principles that we can learn from this game and apply to the game of life.
Have you heard of the football term Two-Minute Warning? If you haven’t, it’s the last two minutes of the half in an NFL Football Game.
Two minutes in football can last for what seems like an eternity. Why? There are a number of reasons the clock stops.
• Timeouts are called
• Plays are run that goes out of bounds
• The quarterback spikes the football to stop the clock, etc.
During these two minutes, teams move the ball faster and more efficiently with what is called a Hurry-Up or Two-Minute Offense.
It boils down to is this, Clock Management. In fact, some coaches and quarterbacks are known for excellent clock management. They are able to squeeze every last second out of the final two minutes to their advantage. You might say they are selfish with their time.
As we consider the Two-Minute Warning Principle in light of Selfish Selflessness, I would like to break down 3 Positive Ways to be Selfless by being Selfish with your time.
Number 1: The Hurry-Up or Two-Minute Offense
I have to admit this concept can amaze and frustrate me at the same time. A team can be passive and lethargic for an entire half but when there are two minutes left, they suddenly come to life and march down the field for a score.
Why? There is a sense of urgency. Players are more focused on the task at hand? Would it great if your team played like this for an entire game? Absolutely! Realistically, it‘s probably not going to happen!
The point I’m trying to make is this. When it comes to being selfish with our time, couldn’t we be more hyper-focused for short stretches? Could we have a sense of urgency with our time? I believe we can. Just like football, it would be hard and next to impossible to maintain that level of focus for a long period.
We get tired. We need to unplug. I’ll address what to do about that later.
Daily Doable: Value time. Give it selflessly but in a selfish way. Be focused. Be urgent. Be in the moment. Make the most of the time you are giving to someone. Give them your full attention.
Number 2: Call TIMEOUT!
The Clock is Ticking! It’s Crunch Time! The game is on the line!
The great ones don’t panic. They are disciplined. They have practiced this scenario over and over and know exactly what to do. Their No-Huddle or Two-Minute Offense has moved the team methodically down the field. But they aren’t quite where they need to be. Not yet.
The really good clock managers have one, two or all three of their timeouts and are ready to use them to their advantage.
• To stop the clock
• To catch their breath
• To set up the next play
Wouldn’t it feel great to a call timeout in your life; hit the pause button; catch your breath and plan your next move? The good news is you can. You’re the Coach, the Quarterback, the Referee in this game we call life. And unlike sports, you can call as many timeouts as you need.
My favorite timeout is walking. I love to walk around my back yard with one of my two dogs, Remi and Ratchet. Walking gives me time to unplug for a little while, clear my head and just think. For me, it’s time well spent.
So why don’t we do it? What is it? Is it guilt? Is it dedication? Is it fear of being called selfish? Maybe it’s one or more of these.
Is it possible to practice timeout in our lives? YES! But it will take discipline.
Daily Doable: Think of something that regularly requires your time. Then ask yourself these questions.
What would happen if you took 15 minutes, 30 minutes or maybe even an hour for you instead of doing (blank)?
Would (blank) suffer or is it possible you would be a little more refreshed and a little more focused to deal with (blank)?
Practice clock management in your life. Call Timeout for You!
Number 3: Work the Sidelines
Here’s a scenario using my favorite team, the Indianapolis Colts.
One timeout left! But the Colts need that to set up the game-winning field goal. They’re close but not close enough to attempt the kick. How can the Colts move the ball down the field, stop the clock, save their last timeout AND beat the Patriots?
If you can read lips, chances are you’ll see the coach screaming, “GET OUT OF BOUNDS!” Or maybe it’s you screaming at the TV. Why? Because you know the value of preserving that last timeout.
The instructions are simple but not easy. Work the sidelines! Run out of bounds! Whether it’s a pass play or running play, whatever play is run, get out of bounds and STOP the clock!
The problem is Coach Belichick knows what the Colts wants to do. And he gets stingy. He wants the clock to keep running. He leaves the middle of the field wide open. But to run a play in the middle of the field, would chew up precious time. That’s not the best option.
In football, the boundaries or sidelines can be used by the offense to stop the clock. And the really good teams work the sidelines to their advantage. The same is true in life. Just like football, the boundaries or limits you establish can be used to your advantage. But you need to put them in place. Otherwise, takers will run all over you.
Givers need to set limits because takers rarely do.
Healthy Boundaries = Healthy Relationships
While our son Jonathan was in counseling for adoption trauma, my wife Mary Beth and I were advised by his therapists to work ONLY has hard as he was working. That was difficult to hear. Because as parents, we’ll do anything for our children. But as we learned, establishing that boundary was not only helpful for him, it was helpful for us. It took discipline.
DAILY DOABLE: What are three limits you can set in your life in order to establish healthy boundaries and healthy relationships?
Boundaries are your friend. Embrace them today.
Thank you for indulging my Colt’s reference. I know the Patriots have bested them more times than not. I’m a Colt’s fan, what can I say?
The game of life is not easy. Whether you’re a football fan or not, I hope you can appreciate these principles and put them into practice in your life.
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