What makes some people run towards a tragedy to help and others run away? Las Vegas law enforcement and regular civilians both gave us heroic examples of Selflessness during and after the shooting at the Mandalay Bay Resort.

What makes people do that? Will any of us follow their example if, God forbid, we find ourselves in the same situation?


These questions may be going through the minds of a lot of people these days. None of us can be sure what we will do in the heat of the moment. But there are things we can all do to prepare ourselves when we are challenged to choose between selflessly serving or turning the other way.

This is not an attempt to judge the motives of anyone. It is an attempt to help us all prepare to be the person most of us would want to be in trying circumstances. In fact the majority of this post was written before the events in Las Vegas.

The circumstances most of us face will never come close to what happened in Las Vegas, Orlando, San Bernardino, or what our military and law enforcement face daily. But, we will all have the opportunity in our lives to exercise Selflessness at an important moment. Hoping that we would do the right thing is not enough. If we are prepared for those situations, our actions will be easier to predict.

Predicting Our Behaviors

Most of us predict the behaviors of others based on their past behaviors. It is not that difficult. The more someone chooses selfish behaviors, they are more likely to act selfishly in the future. Conversely, the more that person chooses to act selflessly, they are more likely to choose Selflessness when challenged in the future. 

This is not rocket science. This predictable pattern works for each of us as well.

The Selfish Cycle

We can all fall into The Selfish Cycle of behavior. Wherever we enter the cycle, it often leads us to other selfish behaviors. The longer we choose one of these behaviors, the easier it is to choose the other behaviors as well.

Self-focused: If we spend an inordinate amount of time focused on what we want, or our personal agendas, we are self-focused. Being self-focused makes us feel like the world owes us more and thus makes us negative about our situation.

Entitled: If we have allowed our desire for more to become a belief that we deserve more, we are entitled. That entitlement mentality makes us consistently dissatisfied with our circumstances and creates a self-focused and negative mindset.

Negative: If we consistently choose to see the dark side of every situation instead of looking for the opportunities, we are negative.  That negativity feeds our tendency to be self-focused and believe we deserve something better out of life.

The common denominator is the overwhelming focus on self. No one is immune from this cycle of selfishness. But, we all can make choices that will help us take another path. Until we get out of The Selfish Cycle, our behaviors when larger tests come will be predictably selfish.

The Selfless Cycle

The preparation for bigger tests depends on how we behave in lesser tests. The tests we face daily and our response to those tests will predict how we react when the stakes are higher.

Other-Focused:  If we place the needs and desires of others before our own, we are other-focused. People who consistently serve others always seem thankful for their own situations and postive about the future. They are rarely in a bad mood!

Thankful:  If we take the time to count the blessings in our lives, we become thankful people. When we focus on all the things that are good in our lives, we begin to see and react to the needs of others and walk through our days with a positive attitude.

Positive:  If we choose to see opportunities before we focus on problems, we are positive people. Being positive creates a thankful spirit and creates a desire to have a positive impact on others. Positive people always seem more interested in others and more willing to serve others as well.

When we put away the tendency to focus on ourselves, we see the needs of others. We are thankful for what we have. And, we begin to be a positive light in the lives of others. When we begin to act unselfishly in our daily lives, it easier to predict that we will choose Selflessness when things get difficult.

The Bottom Line:

We can never fully prepare for the tests we will have in life. All that we can be sure of is – Those tests are coming. The question is what do our past behaviors predict our future behaviors will be?

The good news is, anyone in The Selfish Cycle can make new choices daily and begin acting selflessly. Our selfless actions today will predict our selfless actions tomorrow. If we behave selflessly in our day to day life, we increase the likelihood, we will be there for others when they truly need us.


What other selfless actions are part of The Selfless Cycle?

PS.  Pray for the people affected in Las Vegas and those affected by other tragedies both man made and natural. That is a selfless moment we can use to focus on others and show we care.

Dave Anderson is coauthor of the Amazon Best-Seller Becoming a Leader of Character – Six Habits that Make or Break a Leader at Work and at Home with his father General James L. Anderson (USA Retired).

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