Were you raised to believe that selfishness was essentially the worst character trait you could have? In my household, I was taught that selfishness meant that you do not care for others. It was negative – if I was told that I was “selfish,” I knew that I had failed to show that I was kind. I knew I was a kind person and yet, I internalized this definition of selfishness. Sure, I probably was selfish at times – but what kid is kind or caring 100% of the time?
My upbringing was the perfect training for me and my challenging sales career to rise up and speak up. The qualifier is to do so in a pleasant tone. Anger never solves anything, whereas a natural smile will catch the bullies off-guard. As they allow ego to take over, we are then perfectly positioned to pose a question that they cannot answer. Accordingly, we free ourselves to proceed as we desire. The worst-case scenario is to walk away and continue doing what we believe to be right. So how does this work?
When I was 28, I found myself one late night on the Greek Island of Antiparos. It was past midnight and I was sitting on a homemade wooden chair outside a small but cozy shack with two people who, in all honesty, I didn’t know. She was a female neurosurgeon from Norway and he was an elderly Greek farmer who spoke broken English and who had made the chairs we sat in. This would be the best night of my life.