Enlightened self-interest leads to wealth. Selfish self-preservation leads to poverty. Somebody says, “ I can’t be concerned about other people, I can only be concerned about myself.” Well then, you’ll always have to be concerned about yourself. Somebody says “ I can’t be concerned about other people’s bills, I’ve got enough worries trying to pay my own”. Well then, you’ll have to worry about them for the rest of your life. The best way to get that monkey off your back is to turn your attention to other people.
Once I understood this perspective, it revolutionized my whole life. Self-interest is necessary, of course. But here’s what self-interest must be if you truly want to be happy: it must be enlightened. Don’t keep your attention only on yourself if you want your life to work out well. All the possibilities of greatness – great wealth, great reputation, great satisfaction – come only if you turn your attention from yourself to others.
In your own self-interest, be enlightened. Truly act in your own self-interest by making an investment in service to others.
If you wish to receive, you must give. Some people say, “if you give, it’s gone.” That’s not true if you’re educated. If you’re foolish, yes, it’s gone. But if you’re enlightened, chances are if you give, you’ve invested. What do we expect an investment to do? We expect it to return multiplied…bigger, better, greater.
When I was young, my father taught me an important lesson. He said, “Son, always do more than what you get paid for.” Some individuals might argue with that. They say “no, you’re going to mess up the whole program.” I know they’re wrong. In my own self-interest, I did what my father taught me… I always did more than I got paid for. Why? To make an investment in my future. And it’s paid off for me.
If you’re wanting that big promotion, you can’t go up to your boss and say, “Just give it to me. I’ll work harder if you just give me that promotion.” It doesn’t work that way. You’ve got to do more in your current position to get noticed. You need to stand out from everybody else. That way, your boss will say, “You know, we’ve got this position opening up, and I think we should give it to Nancy. She does so much more than we expect. Just imagine what she’ll do if we give her this promotion!”
You’ve got to do more that you’re paid for. It’s an investment in your future.
It’s one thing to make a sale. If you make a sale, you’ll make a living. If you go beyond making the sale by providing exceptional service – keeping in touch, calling your clients before they call you, writing thank you notes – sales will lead to multiple sales. You can make a fortune if you take good care of the customer. People who are well taken care of will open doors you can’t get through by yourself.
All of us have found ways to make a living. What was interesting for me early on was to figure out ways to make a fortune. You may say, “Well, Mr. Rohn, how could I deserve to make a fortune?” It’s easy. Render fortunes of service. People will do things you cannot believe for those who give them good service.
Here’s one of the greatest gifts you can give to anybody: the gift of attention. In return, they will do extraordinary things for your career. They will take you by the hand and lead you to more people that you could meet by yourself. Always do more than you get paid for.
You see, life responds to deserving, not need. Life was not designed to give us what we need. Life was designed to give us what we deserve. Once you understand that principle, your life will change.
The ancient law does not say this: “If you need you will reap.” It doesn’t work that way. A lot of people out there are hoping it works that way, but it doesn’t. The ancient law says this: that if you sow, if you plant, you will reap. Somebody says, “Well, I really need to reap.” Then you really need to plant. Your own self-interest needs to be educated in how to plant. You must know how to do it so everybody wins, because life just doesn’t respond to need.
You can’t go to the soil and say, “I need a crop.” The soil just smiles at you and says, “Don’t bring me your need, bring me some seed. Bring me some effort. Bring me some discipline. Bring me some interest. Bring me some service. Bring me these things, and I’ll return them to you multiplied.” You can’t come with need. You’ve got to come with seed. You’ve got to come with willingness. You’ve got to come with skills.
You’ve got to be willing to learn, to change, to grow, to make an effort. You must be willing to stand up to the bad weather, to pull out weeds, to nurture. That’s the only way you serve others. And that’s the only way you get a return. Everybody wins with enlightened self-interest.