We are quite possibly living in the ultimate Age of Narcissism. Anybody with a cellphone has the power to broadcast on a global scale, which has tremendous power for worldwide change. Yet many of us use this incredibly opportunity to tell our 2000+ ‘friends’ about tummy aches, traffic jams, children’s first bowel movements and other astonishing irrelevancies. The most social buzzword of recent times is the ‘selfie’ – an artistic yet ultimately narcissistic photo of oneself posted on a social media site (1). It is all about me. Me, me, me, me, me, me.
Successful business owners learn pretty quickly that the vast majority of customers don’t care about you. They care about what you can do for them. How you are going to make their life better. How you are going to enhance their experience. We are instinctively turned off when a service provider makes it about them, after all, we are hard-wired to survive so need to know if this product/service is going to help lengthen our days on earth.
There were repeated Biblical reminders that life should not be the metaphorical equivalent of a great big selfie. Kings were commanded to hand write two copies of the entire scrolls of Mosaic law and history (Deuteronomy 17:18) and forbidden to become too wealthy (17:17). Priests were restricted from inheritance rights (18:2). Homeowners were commanded not to infringe on their neighbours’ boundaries (19:14) and besieging solders were forbidden from executing a ‘scorched earth’ policy that would raze all fruit trees to the ground (20:19). There are many more of these examples, each of which helps us keep the context that we are not God and do not own the planet. Rather, there are multiple opportunities wherein we might become refined examples of humanity, contributing rather than raping the earth.Several years ago the then English soccer captain David Beckham got a Hebrew tattoo with the verse “I am my beloved and my beloved is mine” which is from the Song of Songs (6:3), and his wife followed suit. The Kabbalists teach that this verse is really about our relationship with a Higher Power, about how we give of ourselves and nullify our will to strengthen and support the relationship; that is the essence of “I am my beloved’s”. This love will be returned eventually, but only when we have contributed fully(1).
As the summer drives forwards and we look towards the latter half of the year, we can focus on generating results in every aspect of our life by focusing on others. When we turn the spotlight on others we can create better businesses, relationships, experiences and so much more. By all means pick up your digital camera, just try pointing it at someone else for optimum results (3).
HOW TO APPLY THIS IN THE BOARDROOM: Where are you focusing too much on yourselves and not enough on the customers? How can you improve your customer experience?
HOW TO APPLY THIS ON THE MEDITATION CUSHION: Sit and listen to the sounds of the world around you. Spend the rest of the week listening intensely to others.
HOW TO APPLY THIS ON THE YOGA MAT: Be aware of how you are stuck in your own thoughts during your asana practice, and bring the focus entirely on your body.
Based on Parsha Shoftim.
(1) A selfie is created in a digital format, not to be confused with brilliantly crafted self-portraits like those of Vincent Van Gogh.
(2) This is from a teaching of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, who explained in a discourse that the first half of the verse – “I am my beloved’s” relates to the month of Ellul when we prepare for the new year, reducing our desires and nullifying our personality. The second half of the verse, “my beloved is mine” refers to the period between Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur when we get the energy returned.
(3) In the majority of cases.