“Tell the poor people to go out there and work hard for money like we do instead of begging us to give up our hard-earned dollars.”
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Imagine walking around with a hot mess inside of your head, running the show. That was me.
For about 2/3 of my life I was selfish. Actually, I was an a**hole. Don’t be fooled by who you see now. Make no mistake; my former self was angrier and meaner than Russell Crowe after a few boozy drinks at a strip club.
The worst sign that showed I’d become someone terrible was when a charity visited our startup office asking for donations. I humiliated them in front of all the staff and told them to stop begging people for money.
I told them “tell the poor people to go out there and work hard for money like we do instead of begging us to give up our hard-earned dollars.”
The look on people’s faces was priceless.
They were shocked someone could be so mean, and rude. To this day I’m embarrassed about that incident. I had lots of money during that time in my life and used it as an excuse to be a cold-hearted son of a gun.
There comes a point where when you behave badly every single day, you begin to hate yourself and you don’t know why.
I eventually worked out that I’d turned into a monster of a human being. I was able to change, but it was a slow process because I avoided the signs.
Here are the signs you need to take a long hard look at yourself.
You only care about yourself
When someone needs a break you ignore it. You say no to every request of your time unless it serves your personal development goals or bank account.
You spend your days trying to squeeze more juice out of your life so you can consume it all for yourself. You don’t mentor or coach anyone. You see your life as getting from point A to point B as quickly as you can.
As a result, you burn out regularly. Your entire life is about you. You can’t see anything else, or anyone else. The people in front of you on the footpath are just bodies that are in your way and blocking you from getting to your next meeting on time.
Other human beings are nothing more than an inconvenience for you.
You don’t feel anything when people get fired
The true test is when somebody at the company you work at gets fired. Or when you have to fire somebody from a company you have ownership in.
How do you feel?
In my former life, I loved seeing people get fired. It was a form of public execution for a person I believed didn’t understand the sport of performance and worshipping of thy KPIs.
Knowing that person couldn’t pay their mortgage was delightful. I couldn’t wait for them to get home and tell their partner what had happened.
Maybe they’d learn the six habits of success, finally.
Wanting to see people get fired is a devastating sign. You have gone seriously mad if you think seeing a family go hungry in the name of “the business” is mildly entertaining and pleasurable to endure.
Someone getting fired is a reinvention to be a part of, not a shaming contest for your ego.
You don’t hold the elevator
It’s a tiny little sign.
A person is running for the elevator. You push the close button on the door. Why should you be inconvenienced or late for them?
What you don’t know is the mother of three who was running for the elevator was desperately trying to make it so she could get to the hospital and see her husband, who is dying from cancer, for the last time.
You saved time but you didn’t allow her to savor those last few moments with her husband. You just didn’t think of it that way because your focus is on yourself. How could you possibly see someone else’s struggle?
You walk past the homeless in disgust
How do you treat people who have nothing? If your view is that homelessness is the fault of the person who has no roof over their head, you might be mistaken.
One of my mentors was a multi-millionaire working in property.
One day he received a legal letter for a minor infringement. He didn’t take the letter seriously and forwarded it to his lawyer. They promised to handle the matter. He thought they did.
A few months later, his lawyer was shot dead in the middle of a busy street while trying to protect a woman that was being man-handled by a bikie. Not long after, that tiny legal matter became a huge deal and the only person that could explain what happened was his deceased lawyer.
So the sheriff came to his house and took away everything he’d worked for. His wife was at the hospital giving birth to their second daughter. He told her what happened and they overstayed in the hospital because they had nowhere else to go. They were homeless and slept in their family car with a newborn baby. If you saw him in the street you might think he was a “bum.”
What you wouldn’t know is that he’s one of the smartest people in business you will ever meet. Homelessness broke his family and it was harder than he ever imagined. He felt worthless and that made it impossible for him to fire up his money-making brain to get out of the mess.
The lesson is simple: anyone can become homeless in the blink of an eye due to unforeseen circumstances. See the person, not the situation.
You prioritize money over relationships
Life can be a transaction.
Or a series of relationships.
You’ve met someone (on a platform like LinkedIn) before who wants nothing more than to talk with you for the purpose of a transaction. You can see the transaction in the words they type or the cheesy video they send you.
If money has become your end game, it’s time to rethink your life.
Money is just digits on a screen. It won’t make you feel better about your life. What makes life worth living are the other human beings you get to do life with. They share the journey and help you discover the fun times.
There is no end to money. You can never have the most money or ever accumulate all of it for yourself.
Money is a game without an ending. Some would call that torture.
The revelation that I discovered in my life is that relationships can lead you to better opportunities than money ever can. You will have more money than you could ever spend if you focus on relationships that don’t have an end game — counterintuitive, I know.
You act overly harsh
People will make mistakes in your presence, guaranteed. How you respond is a sign of who you are currently.
You can respond one of two ways:
- With empathy
- With disgust/abuse/hate/shame
The change in my life was seeing other people’s mistakes as identical to my own. If someone messes up a presentation, you can mess one up too. So if that person who stuffed up could be you tomorrow or in the future, how would you act towards yourself when dealing with this person’s mistake?
A harsh reaction provides no value.
A positive reaction leads to learning (for you and them).
You criticize everybody else
Notice how much time you spend criticizing others. It’s easy to be a critic. It takes no effort at all. All you have to do is find the faults — and everything is faulty, especially humans. Humans are born imperfect with an expiry date.
In my former life, I was a Youtube troll. I’d leave terrible comments and make fun of people trying to explore their creative side. Finding something to say took no time at all. Being sarcastic was easy and it helped other trolls gain enjoyment.
I realized one thing: most of my time was spent commentating, not doing.
There are plenty of critics already. Unless your comment presents a valuable insight, a solution, or words of encouragement, is it really needed?
Notice how much time you spend criticizing because it’s a sign.
You don’t listen
There is speaking and listening.
If you show up to a conversation thinking you have all the answers, something is wrong. There are always unforeseen circumstances and hidden insights.
When you don’t listen, all you hear is yourself.
The danger then looks like this: you are the unofficial expert in your head, in all matters of life. Listening is incredibly hard and when you suffer from the disease of selfishness, you can’t hear the world around you.
You make the same mistakes over and over again
It’s your third sacking.
It’s your fourth romantic breakup in a row.
It’s your one-hundredth family argument that ends in you walking out.
It’s your sixth failed business.
If there is a pattern in your mistakes, it might be a sign. You could be the pattern in everything that is going wrong. And the good news is that you can, therefore, take responsibility and do something about it.
Look at your mistakes. Ask yourself “how am I complicit?”
You compete rather than collaborate
Does there have to be a winner and a loser? Is losing not greater than winning? When you lose, you learn.
Noticing how you see the world is a sign. There are two scenarios:
- Life is a competition.
- Life is a team sport.
This subtle outlook on life determines how you will treat people. If life is a competition then you must let other people lose, or even go out of your way to make them lose, thus secretly sabotaging your life.
Seeing life as a team sport makes more sense because the outcome becomes irrelevant. It changes your life from “who won?” to “it was fun to be with all those people.”
Noticing these signs in my own life caused a reinvention of my beliefs, goals, and attitude towards others. This is the result.
How To Take A Long Hard Look At Yourself
If one of these signs stands out in your life, it might be time to take a long hard look at yourself. Here’s how:
- Reflect on the last few years.
- Ask people, who know you, hard questions.
- Analyze the negative feedback you’ve been getting.
- Forgive people who you used to say “wronged you.”
- Go beyond yourself and find a way to contribute.
- Notice your self-talk. Write it down.
- Count the number of people you helped for no good reason in the last thirty days.
You don’t have to continue living a life of regret and experiencing a feeling of nothingness. There is so much more available to you when you take a long hard look at yourself and the way you’ve been acting.
If you don’t like what you see, you can change it. It starts with the shift from “me” to “you,” and then “us.”
Life is about so much more than what you can get for yourself.