The Narcissism of Compassion.
In my company, when we start with the new client, we begin with a half day workshop called the New Client Workshop. Pretty snazzy name, right? In it, I do a deep analysis of the person’s business. It’s sort of like taking your company to a therapist’s office. We explore all the values so I can better understand the brand and eventually get to the intersection of money and personal passion. It is the very thing that drove people to get into the line of work that they are in. And strangely enough, regardless of the business, and what they produce be at a product, service or otherwise, the reason they got into business always boils down to the very same thing they want to help people.
In fact, I have never had a client, who didn’t say that at the core they wanted to help people. Really? I would ask them, this isn’t just about the money? No, they would reply. I want to be helpful. I want to make people’s lives better. In researching this I found it is true. At the core of our humanity is a deep desire to be connected with each other and in so much to be a force of good, adding something to people’s lives.
It seemed a bit ironic that with all the upset in the world, with all the war and strife, we are actually, at our core, all a bunch of Mother Teresa’s and Gandhi’s walking around. How can this possibly be? I discovered that it is largely due to fear. Fear and anger or fear and hatred are roughly the same thing. I am afraid that I won’t have my needs met, I therefore have to supersede my natural proclivity of being helpful and in-service to make sure that my needs are met first.
It seems to be why at the end of the great career of captains of industries, they shift their focus into philanthropic endeavors. Andrew Carnegie didn’t build Carnegie Hall at the height of his career he built it after he had amassed a great fortune, More than he could ever use in his lifetime. It wasn’t until the end of his career that he started to consider what he could offer to the world. So then the question is are we truly compassionate or are we doing ask of service for the narcissistic hit it gives us? While Carnegie Hall has served the public by providing a place for artists and patrons to come together however, let’s face it, the guy’s name is still on the side of the building. Does the narcissism of altruism take anything away from generosity? I would have to say no. Whether we give and get something back for it in the realm of notoriety or just a good feeling or whether we give and get nothing back from met does not change the fact that by giving we are contributing to others in the greater good.
The human animal is a social species. We must be connected with each other. You can think about it this way, the prison in prison is solitary confinement. On the outside being away from all the rapists, murderers, child molesters and all the other crazy people seems like a pretty good deal. You would think anybody would enjoy a little quiet time to oneself. However, as humans being cut off from relationship even if those relationships are horrific is untenable. We cannot exist alone. We need to each other. It is in our core DNA. It is who we are. In the Tom Hanks movie castaway, During a pivotal scene, Tom says to his volleyball friend, Wilson, that he would rather die on his raft out in the ocean in an attempt to reconnect with society then live another day alone on that island. Indeed, we do need to each other.
We cannot exist alone. Part of that truth is that we want to help and support others. It is simply in the nature of being human. As a marketing and business development consultant I consider it my job to help steer my clients towards this genetic goal of being helpful. When they come to me, their primary concern is generating more income but I recognize that here is also the desire to serve the public trust.
The people we choose as clients and the clients who choose us tend to understand this about themselves and the world. We do our best to keep that goal in front of them. I let them know that we won’t simply be increasing their bank account but we’ll also be doing things and in ways that will make the lives of their customers and clients better. By keeping an overall focus of where we contribute ultimately produces greater success, Satisfaction and income. In that way, Being altruistic, is important to one’s bottom-line.
So yes we feel good when we are compassionate and do acts of service. It contributes to us as we contribute to others. It’s a good living. Remind my clients that they don’t have to make excuses for being helpful. Getting from giving is mostly who we are. They don’t have to be afraid of looking in the mirror and saying, what’s in it for me? Certainly the Apple Corporation has enhance the lives of millions of people while making billions of dollars. The narcissism of compassion drives us to do good deeds. The people reaping the benefits of it don’t really care if we are you getting something from it or not. All they know is that they are. Being good to others is being good to ourselves and it’s being in good business.