What is Altruism?
According to the dictionary, altruism is the belief in or practice of disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others.
Geez! That sounds so impractical!
Can’t we be concerned for the well-being of others and be interested and concerned about ourselves?
Yes. Yes we can.
What happens when I tell my clients that I don’t believe them?
Often in my first conversation with people about why they want to give back they tell me something like: “I want to help people. It doesn’t matter what I get out of it as long as I help people.”
To that I say, “What a shame! And by the way, I don’t believe you.”
That usually leads to a few uncomfortable moments of silence.
Then I explain that I don’t believe in altruism. I mean, I believe in the concept. It is lovely, after all. But I don’t think it is a practical approach to changing communities.
When you see a problem in your community that you want to fix, if you go into it thinking, “It doesn’t matter what I get out of it as long as I help people” you are less likely to make transformative change.
On the other hand, if you are honest with yourself about your motivations for giving back (which aren’t always obvious, btw) and what changes you want to make in your own life and career, and you design a business or organization with your motivations in mind, you are more likely to stick with it and make the transformative change.
So, I invented a new word.
I’ve invented the word “Altruselfism” to describe how you can be concerned for the well-being of others and also look out for your own dreams, goals and desires.
(By “invent” I mean I put “altruism” and “self” into WordCombiner.com and this is what I got back. I use only the highest standards of scientific methods in my work :-)).
5 truths about “Altruselfism”
- You can change lives and make money (even a profit).
- Reciprocity is a key component of altruselfism.
- In order to be truly altruselfistic you have to be willing to be honest with yourself about your motivations for wanting to help others.
- You can’t guess at what constitutes “well-being” for another person, you have to ask them.
- There is no perfect formula for altruselfism. For some people, there will be more altruism. For others, there will be more self-interest.