Short and Sweet: It’s not about me.

How meaningful contribution wins over personal strengths

In helping others, we help ourselves.

I have really been noticing a pattern lately. It’s not new but it’s something that I think we really take for granted and don’t give near enough attention to or intention to achieve. Most everything I am reading, watching, studying, or consuming in any way seems to all be telling me the same thing. The thing that seems to be a big key to personal and professional success.

The overall message I’m getting is: It’s not about me.

I consume a lot of information about personal and professional development. Mostly, because I find it much more productive than negative media of any type. There are a lot of things that aren’t specific to my own personal goals (for example, I don’t necessarily need to know how to get my hip hop music heard by more people, how to build a brand, or how to collaborate with other artists..haha!) But, if you pay attention to what they are saying, it doesn’t matter what the field or area of interest – it all comes down to making it about others. It’s about contributing something of quality. The others can be anyone: customers, family, patients, students, fans, followers, or anyone that you impact in some way or another.

Staring me in the face

Cut to this week and me learning about cooperative and team-based learning. As I went through this week’s lessons to find the basis and research for why cooperative learning and team-based learning are so effective – I saw it again. It’s all about helping others.

Hear me out. The researchers of cooperative learning stand on, what they say are “mountains of research” to show that the best way to get people to learn is by putting them together and getting them to care about each other’s success. The structure of this type of learning makes it such that in order to achieve your goals, you have to care about helping others achieve theirs as well. And, by doing so, a long list of benefits follow. Because your success is tied to their success, it promotes cooperation, teaching each other, lifting each other up, developing each other, having understanding and recognizing each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and using those to create output. I thought this was profound. I mean, we are seeing evidenced-based proof that putting people together in a position that makes them “care about each other’s success” leads to people (everyone) achieving more, liking each other better, creating networks and friendships, increasing their abilities to work with diverse people, helping them learn more and transfer what they are learning to their work and lives more efficiently. That is incredible to me.

Key takeaway here

Whatever it is that you want to do, whatever position you are in or how you are supposed to impact people – it’s worth considering that, according to both researchers Dr. David Johnson and Dr. Roger Johnson, “mountains of research” show the benefits of caring about others’ successes as well as your own. And, maybe in knowing that, we can change the way we think about achieving success and solving problems. If we approach problems and our work and attitudes with the goal of contributing something quality to others that will help them get what they need or want – we might just end up helping ourselves as well.

Links and such….

To stay in this mindset, consider improving what you consume to focus more on contributing, doing a good job, and other things more productive than sources of media that feed on the negative.


Great video with Gary Vaynerchuck and Eric Thomas “Motivation, Success, & Public Speaking”

Great talk with Marie Forleo and Seth Godin “The truth about your calling”


Brendon Burchard

  • High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way

Cal Newport

  • So Good They Can’t Ignore You

For more information about cooperative learning, here are two short youtube videos of the researchers quoted in this article. 

(article originally published on LinkedIn)

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