It's the age old question set up, usually used at dodgy cocktail parties. The context always revolves around the the idea of getting stuck on a deserted island. The questions go like "If you were going to be stuck on a desert island, what three items would you bring with you?" or "What book would you bring with you if you were going to be stranded on a deserted island?"
I don't have a problem with these questions. They help us understand who we are talking to more and to learn more about the world that they occupy. However, the line of questioning also leads to me to think about something in our culture that I feel very strongly about.
You see, human beings are known to generally act more out of self interest than from anything else. This isn't a put down, it's fact. We know this to be true. As you can imagine that it would, this permeates our day to day lives on every level, filling everything from our careers to our relationships with family.
Now, I admit that this can seem a bit dark, like I'm saying that people only do things because it benefits them in some way...Well, that is what I'm saying. But it's not that simple. We might have a myriad of ways that we derive benefit from our actions, from financial gain down to a dopamine shot to our systems when we see our child falling asleep at the end of a long day. Sure, our actions are generally self interested, but it's not always cutthroat. Our moment so of empathy really save our collective asses here.
All of that aside, there are many in this world of ours that operate mostly from the place of blatant and unapologetic self interest. They push, cajole, and drive for what they want, despite what it does to other people. It even works many times. It's true. Think of the jerk boss who drives a Porsche and you'll get the picture.
So what do we do? Push and pull our way into getting what we want? Well, in my humble opinion, that's child's play. That's some short term thinking crap. What about this?
Why not try to be focused entirely on what you can give to people? Why not try to give them what they are in need of? Sure, you are doing it out of self interest, but you are placing that so far in the back of you mind, the genuine heart of service begins to take hold and to shine through.
Find out what others need then solve it. Focus on them. Make it about them. As Draven Grey says "In the land where everybody is asking "What's in it for me?", the man who asks "What can I do for you?" is king. Be the king..or queen.. you get the idea.
In fact, I'm going to start asking a different deserted island question at parties. Instead, I'll ask "If you were going to be stranded on a desert island, what would the people you leave behind remember you for?"
Now, THAT'S a good question to get know somebody by. (Although, it's a pretty awful party question. I never said I was good at parties.)