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The Social Responsibility to be SELFISH

by Mel Robbins

I recently had the opportunity to ask an auditorium full of several thousand women this simple question: “What Do You Want?” Nearly every one said they wanted the same thing: “to make a difference in the world.”

I was with Donald Trump a few weeks ago, and had the opportunity to ask a room full men the same question. Their answer? “Make a million bucks,” “Sell a company,” “Invent a product.”

This is no clash of the sexes, we all have the same selfish desire: we just want to feel good.

Every time you say you want to “make a difference” think about all of the reasons why. Why do you volunteer? Why you travel to another country to work in a clinic? Is it really to help people in need?


You do it because YOU feel so good when you help. It’s no different, and certainly no better, than what lies beneath motivation to make a million dollars, run a marathon, or start a company.

Steve Jobs wasn’t motivated by anything more than his selfish desire to “Stay Hungry”, and “Stay Foolish”; and as he famously said in his commencement address at Stanford, “Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did.”

I’m not condemning your actions, I’m telling you that to truly love what you do, you must allow your selfish desires to surface.

It doesn’t matter if you want to “make a difference” or “make a million dollars”, it’s going to take WORK. Your family will have to get behind you as you put in long hours. You’ll have to ask your network for favors and handouts. Sounds selfish to me.

If you really want to make a difference, start smiling at everyone you walk past. It forces them to smile back, and the familiar rush of ‘feel good’ will jolt through your veins faster than this morning’s double espresso. You want a million dollars? Try getting a second job. Don’t buy those shoes, put that money in the bank and that ‘feel good’ hit will make you higher than new platform Jimmy Choos!

Being selfish is one of the strongest forces you can tap to motivate yourself. If a doctor told you that you needed to drop 30lbs to lower your cholesterol, would you do it? No. However, if your sex life screeched to a halt because those same 30lbs made you feel unattractive, the promise of orgasm would have you sprinting towards the treadmill.

I’m asking you a simple question: “What Do You Want?” Start thinking about your selfish desires right now, because if you have the guts to tell me the truth, I will teach you everything I know about how to go out and get it.

2011 PA Conference for Women speaker Mel Robbins stars in A&E’s new television series, “Monster In-Laws,” She’s a former trial attorney with an Ivy League degree and 17 years’ experience coaching people. She gives advice to men and women across America on her daily syndicated radio show, The Mel Robbins Show and is the best-selling author of “STOP SAYING YOU’RE FINE: The No BS Guide To Getting What You Want.”