Whatever you might think of people who are obsessed with taking selfies (I’ve taken a few…so you can start there), something in the culture is changing.
And it has implications for all of us who lead, parent and frankly, who simply live. Cultural shifts do that.
And as easy as it is to pick on millennials (people born between the early 80s and early 2000s) and call them the selfie generation, I think it’s a little broader than that.
In fact, I’ve seen the trait I’m writing about today embodied by 18-year-olds, 45-year-olds and even in 75-year-olds.
What’s the issue?
An obsession with self.
What if the obsession is deeper than you think?
And what if it’s harming you more and the people around you more than you think?
Three Common Ways Self-Obsession Shows Up
So where’s the evidence that we’re becoming more self-obsessed?
Here are three ways I’ve seen a shift in culture over the last few years.
1.Public platforms that get hijacked for personal agendas
You can criticize celebrities and famous people all you want, but we live in the generation where anyone can have a platform. And an age in which many people want one.
I ran headlong into self-obsessed leaders in the last few months at two very ordinary community events—one a funeral and the other a party. At both (radically different) events, the speaker seized what should have been a public moment honouring others to talk about themselves instead.
At the funeral, the pastor barely talked about the deceased, and instead talked about how he interacted with the deceased, how often he visited him, and other various tidbits about his life that frankly, no one was interested in. A funeral is supposed to be about Christ and the person we’re remembering, not about the officiant.
Ditto at the party my wife and I were at. The keynote speaker, instead of speaking to and about the many people gathered, instead spoke about how excited she was to be speaking and how awesome she was. Really?
Any time you start to use a public platform for personal gain, you cross a line. You are there to serve, not to be served. I wrote more about how to ensure you don’t turn a platform into a pedestal here.
Bottom line? Whenever you strap on a mic or stand up in front of a group or crowd, ask how you can serve them and serve God.
Keep that front and centre and you won’t hijack a public platform for personal gain.Any time you start to use a public platform for personal gain, you cross a line. You are there to serve, not to be served. Click To Tweet
2. The dying art of great conversation
Great conversation is an art. It’s a two-way exchange of ideas and so much more, usually characterized by one person taking a deep interest in the other or in an idea.
Increasingly, I’ve been in personal conversations with people of all ages (including seniors) in which true conversation has proven difficult.
In too many cases, conversation has become talking about yourself to another person, which is really not conversation at all. It’s become like a tag team, where I’ll talk about me for two minutes and then stop, so you can talk about you for two minutes, and then I’ll go back to talking about me for a bit, and then you talk about you again…and so on.
What happened to
Exploring a topic?
Taking a genuine interest in someone other than yourself?
Advancing a meaningful dialogue with questions and observations?
Talking past each other about yourself is not a conversation, but increasingly it seems to pass for one.
Want a quick primer on having better conversation? This article can help.
Three of the best tips I know:
Express a genuine interest in the other person.
Do these three things and not only will you never be bored, you will learn so much.Talking past each other about yourself is not a conversation, but increasingly it seems to pass for one. Click To Tweet
3. The death of confession
This one’s a hunch as much as anything. I could be completely wrong.
But I wonder how many Christians actually take time to confess their sins, deeply and personally. I know I have to remind myself to do this. It does not come naturally.
In a culture in which self is continually elevated and celebrated, how do you get to a place where in humility you realize you are not who you hoped to be and not what you could be?
How does confession happen in a generation that has been convinced that they are awesome and everyone else (the school system, the neighbours, the other kids, the government, that bully) is the problem?
We seem to be great at blaming. Great at judging. As I wrote about here, many of us are more like the Pharisees than we are like Jesus.
It would seem to me that people who confess their sins would be the kind of people who blame less and love more. In touch with our own sinfulness, we are more likely to approach others with compassion and humility.
Confession is essentially responsibility. Confession says God is not to blame. Others are not the blame. I am responsible for my condition and my sin. And I am trusting in a merciful Saviour to forgive me and remake me.You will never confess your sins if you believe everyone and everything else is to blame. Click To Tweet
So What Exactly Is The Curse?
Selfishness is a paradox.
You end up being self-focused and selfish because you think it’s going to get you ahead. But in reality it alienates you from everyone around you.
The curse of self-obsession is this: a life devoted to self ultimately leaves you alone.
Think about it.
Nobody likes to be around selfish people. You don’t. I don’t.
People who devote their lives to the cause of ‘me’ ultimately find themselves alone. The very thing they hoped to gain through self-promotion and self-focus is the very thing they lose.
It’s a cruel twist.
It’s a life devoted to serving others and serving Christ that brings not only joy, but community and support.A life devoted to self ultimately leaves you alone. Click To Tweet
Imagine what could happen if we got over ourselves.
Enough to leverage platforms for public good, enough to truly engage people, ideas and causes when we speak with one another, and if we confessed our sins deeply enough that we became a new creation.
Sure, Instagram isn’t going away anytime soon. And you and I might post pictures of ourselves from time to time.
But maybe those pictures would become reflections of a new, different self.
Leveraging a platform well takes time
If you’re honest with yourself, how did your time management turn out in 2019? Looking back, would you say, “Man, I was so on top of stuff, I’ve got no issues heading into 2020?”
Or are you thinking, “I need to do better with time?”
Here’s one of the challenges with time management.
Nobody’s making any more time. Everybody gets 24 equal hours in a day.
The most productive person you know gets the same amount of time you do. So why are they more effective than you?
That’s why I developed The High Impact Leader course.
The High Impact Leader course teaches you the system that I’ve used to manage my time now for almost 15 years.
I couldn’t believe the difference this approach has made for me. Before I created the system, I was leading a fraction of what I’m leading today. I also worked more hours and I was busy exhausted. My old approach led me to into burn out.
On the way out of burnout, I realized I had to live differently.
So I started reprioritizing my time, managing my energy, figuring out how to stop getting my priorities hijacked by other people, and in the process (by accident), I became far more productive, so now I can write books, I lead a new company. I speak all over the world, host a podcast, and still actually have time for my family and for myself. I even get seven to eight hours of sleep every night.
How do you do that? I’d love to show you how to do that, in the online, on-demand High Impact Leader Course.
I’ve helped over 3000 leaders free up hundreds of hours each year and often 3 hours a day to do what they feel they never have time for and get healthier in the process.
The course is designed to help you get time, energy and priorities working in your favor.
Many leaders who have taken it are recovering 3 productive hours a day. That’s about 1000 hours of found time each year. That’s a lot of time for what matters most.
Curious? Want to beat overwhelm and have the time to reflect, rest and reinvent yourself?
Click here to learn more or get instant access.
What Do You See?
I’d love to hear from you. What are you seeing?
What are some things that help you get over yourself?