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  • David McNally

Me First Doesn’t Work


One of the great ironies of life, perhaps, a stroke of metaphysical genius, is that lasting success in any endeavor requires that we put ourselves, our own wants and needs, second in line. There is only one exception and that is giving priority to, and paying attention to, our physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.

Much has been written, both supporting and criticizing--the “Law of Attraction.” I have no argument with its intent, however I have learned that there is a principal that supersedes any other when it comes to “attracting” success. It is called--The Principle of Contribution: “Before crops can be reaped, seeds must be sown; before profits can be reaped, problems must be solved; before love can be reaped, love must be shown.”


In a world that is being transformed at breakneck speed, The Principle of Contribution has never changed—it’s truth is timeless. Contribution is the invisible thread woven into the very fabric of the universe. Science teaches us how the sun and the moon contribute to the earth. Without the sun, life would not be possible, whilst the moon, with its gravitational pull, controls our tides. The science behind climate change clearly explains how nature is an intricate balancing act in which every species plays a part.


Contribution, however, is also the magic word for understanding how to achieve what we want for our lives. If we want a successful career, we must discover ways to maximize our contribution to the organization we work for and the people we serve. If we seek rich relationships, focusing on how we contribute to our loved ones, friends, and colleagues provides the answer.


What businesses have you as a loyal customer? Those that consistently contribute value to you. What businesses fail? Those that fail to contribute. What friendships or relationships mean the most to you? Those that contribute value in ways that are important to you. Who are the people universally most admired? Those who contribute to the betterment of all.


When I am asked to speak to college students, an inevitable question is: “How can I get a good job?” My counsel is very straightforward: “Keep in mind that no individual or organization wants to ‘give’ you a job, but there are many organizations looking for people who will contribute to their success. Your first task is to discover an organization to which you would make that level of commitment.”


Life is at its very best when people are committed to contributing to each other. We love to work in a team where our gifts are appreciated, and our contribution is valued. We love to be with friends who accept, encourage and listen to us. We love to dine in restaurants where not only the food is delicious, but also where the staff contribute to an exceptional dining experience. We love to go to concerts where the musicians lift our spirits and move our souls.


Wherever you look, the evidence is clear--great leaders, parents, partners, friends, and organizations all have one thing in common—they are contributors--and a better world is created because of their existence.


How can so simple a principle be so profound? And yet it is!


Each of us will define success in our own way but, no matter your choice, if you are to succeed, you must understand that your rewards in life are connected to the contribution you make.


The Lesson: “The difference between luck and good fortune is that the first is arbitrary and the latter a consequence of contribution.”


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