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Selflessness – You have to DO what you want to BE

Selflessness Defined: Putting the needs of others before my own needs, desires or convenience.

Time. That is one of the greatest gifts anyone can give to anybody. In today’s world, time is more valuable than ever. We have more demands pulling us in more directions than any generation before us. Therefore, the gift of our time is more valuable to people than ever before.

But as I think through my life, I recognize that I often divide my attention between the person in front of me and something else. I have read text messages while eating a meal with somebody. I have typed an email while my kids have been telling me about their day. I have answered the phone, because “it was important”, while my wife was talking to me about her job. We have to DO what we want to BE! If we want to be a selfless leader, we need to do what selfless leaders do.

We should never multitask people! People are not tasks that we need to check off our “to do list” for the day. It is a window into our character when we treat people as if they are a task to be handled versus a person to whom we give our attention.

Multiple studies have proven over and over again that multitasking is ineffective. When we divide our attention between more than one thing, 95% of us are more prone to errors and are less efficient. Maybe that is why, when I multitask my wife, I misunderstand her or miss critical aspects of what she needs from me. Because of my inattention, she becomes frustrated and we are in a bad place in our relationship as a result.

The truth is that we all want the same thing. We all want to be heard and understood by the other person. We want to feel like the other person is actually invested in what we are saying. We want to know that they respect us enough to look us in the eye and concentrate on what we are telling them – even when it is inconvenient for them.

We define Selflessness as: Putting the needs of others before our own needs, desires or convenience.

When I stop and think about what I want from others, I realize how often I fall short of those expectations myself. I often put my convenience ahead of the needs of another person. It is hypocritical to expect others to do something that I don’t do myself. I hate it when I look in the mirror and realize I’m a hypocrite. I need to work harder and not value my convenience more than I value other people.

Valuing others over our convenience can be:

  • Pausing the television when our spouse or kids want to speak to us.

  • Putting our phone on silent when we are eating with someone.

  • Avoiding glancing at our watch multiple times in a conversation.

  • Treating the other person like they are the only thing we have on the schedule that day.

I often say that “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” I’ve realized that one of the best ways I can let someone know I care about them is to take the time to listen to them. My time is a gift I can give to that other person – not just when it is convenient - but especially when it is inconvenient. That is a test of whether I am a selfish person, a selfish leader, or a selfish spouse versus a selfless one.

Dig Deep Questions:

  • When was the last time you multitasked another person?

  • How does it make you feel when you are on the receiving end of that action?


Exercising Selflessness takes work and is a lifelong journey. We want to partner with you as you practice the habit of Selflessness daily, which is why we have created FREE tools and resources to guide your journey.

To make it easy to keep the definition of Selflessness visible on your screens and devices, we would like to share our FREE Selflessness backgrounds for desktop and mobile available for download at:

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