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Is Being Self-Centered That Bad: Caring for Others vs Caring for Self

Is Being Self-Centered That Bad: Caring for Others vs Caring for Self

Has there been a shift in our thinking around caring for others vs. caring for ourselves? I ask this because of the current focus on Self-Awareness. Has the pendulum swung again to a focus on self rather than on others? (Some may ask if the pendulum ever really swung toward the latter!) I remember the 1970s being dubbed the “me” generation because of the way the baby boomers had become so self-centered, more concerned about themselves and their own comfort than those around them. The fallout of that state of affairs was the economic recession of the early 1980’s: very high unemployment and the collapse of savings and loans financial institutions, blamed in part on the excessive greed and over-consumption of that “me” generation.

However, the series tworkers talkinghat I have been writing over the past 14 weeks is not on economics but on soft skills. So where is the connection? I see it in the way that every few months, it seems that a new “best” system of managing or leading pops up. A new expert writes a book on the latest and greatest method, but a close examination reveals it to be merely a reworking of a system that had already come and gone. We are told that the newest and latest method will give us insight into how to solve our current “unique” issues. The reality, though, is that things may change but they also stay remarkably the same.

I have come to believe that we need to have, and use, the combination of both the new and the old. Of course we should pay attention to the latest research and ideas, but we should not necessarily throw away all the experience and knowledge we have gained over many years just to chase the “new” thing. In the context of this post, does it have to be either Caring for Yourself vs. Caring for Others, or can it be both? I believe it can.

“Why do we assume that showing care and concern for others and their needs means that we make ourselves and our needs our lowest priority?”

Why do we assume that showing care and concern for others and their needs means that we make ourselves and our needs our lowest priority? That we either practice self-care or be a good colleague and team member who demonstrates compassion for others, but that we can’t be or do both? What if we can, and actually need, to do both. That they are inclusive? If we have shared goals with those with whom we share our personal and professional lives, finding a way to take care of both ourselves and others can create an environment for success. Caring for ourselves can be a template, a model for caring for others. By taking good care of ourselves, we become the best colleague we can be, demonstrating care for others. Seeing the ways in which everyone is interconnected, and the way in which everyone’s success benefits the entire group is an important attitude shift. When we can find a way to care for others and ourselves, we develop a more positive, productive workplace. When we come to the realization that we have shared goals with those we work with, we can find a way to both care for ourselves and care for others.


This is the fourteenth in a series of posts exploring Soft Skills and why they are so important to your success in any endeavour.

John Whitehead, MA, CEC, coaches individuals and organizations in becoming more effective by helping them improve their interpersonal communications, emotional intelligence and resiliency.

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