What’s in it for me?

Posted by Sooz on Monday, December 2, 2013 | 3 Comments



This post comes to you from the desk of: Mark Shipsey

What’s in it for me?

Do you use the phrase “what’s in it for me?” in public or do you just think it?  Sure, we all think it sometimes, but hopefully we have enough maturity to keep that quiet.  Still, it emanates from us nonverbally if it’s in us to begin with.  The thing is, it really looks ridiculous when we act so selfishly.

Full disclosure… you know how the things we dislike about others generally point back to the things we don’t like in ourselves but haven’t the courage to look at them?  For me it is entitlement.  I hate it when people act entitled, it just rubs me the wrong way.  Mostly because it should be ME getting that something of value, because I deserve it.  See what I mean?   I try to disguise it but it’s still all over me.

The Latin phrase, cui bono, is used as a legal term.  Basically put, it is used to ask a question during an investigation, “who benefits from this?”  In doing so, it frequently sheds light on the guilty party.  What it does is place an emphasis on the one who may be guilty by tracing motive via benefit.  For example, a woman takes out a life insurance policy on herself for $500,000 and within a month is found dead.  “Cui bono” reveals the husband as a possible suspect based on the fact that, as beneficiary, he stands to gain half a million dollars.  It doesn’t make him guilty, but it reveals the possibility of a motive.  Motive and motivation are very powerful influences in our hearts and in our world.  As you can probably assume by this introduction, I have been pondering what it is that motivates me.  All I keep coming up with is self-comfort.  It is by no means the ONLY thing that motivates me, don’t get me wrong.  Let’s just say it’s the biggest motivator in my life currently that I would like to eliminate.  I could elaborate on the positive things that motivate me, and that would give you a more complete picture of who I am and what makes me tick.  You’re the same as I am; we’re good folks, doing the best we can 99% of the time.  So what blocks us from things like fearless intimacy, a sense of wholeness, or satisfaction in life?  Cui bono points an ironically indicting finger right at us!  The irony is this issue of “who benefits,” the literal meaning of the Latin phrase.  The more I try to benefit myself, the greater my unhappiness.

Any attempt at self-satisfaction will impinge on the very things we thirst for.  Why?  They CANNOT and WILL NOT be enjoyed independently.  Fearless intimacy requires us to be aware of the needs of others.  Sometimes the needs of the other outweighs your need.  Typically, in a healthy relationship, this happens 50% of the time.  So if “what’s in it for me” is a prime motivator, you’re in trouble – and so are the people you love.  Wholeness will never exist in the absence of loving interdependence.  We were made to be a family and to enjoy family, in whatever form you find it.  Husband and kids, friends from work, the Moose Lodge, whatever!  My greatest experience with satisfaction in life came during a season where I was serving others more than at any time previously.  Service is integral to satisfaction in life.

Do I have the nerve to exhibit a “what’s in it for me?” lifestyle?  Nope, I am too smart for that.  It just shows up more insidiously – through stunted relationships, incompletion, and dissatisfaction.  Not 24/7, but too much for me to look away any longer.  What about you?  Do you feel the same way?  Is it sourced in the same thing for you?  You’re free to share here, I would be honored to learn from you and we would all be the beneficiaries.


A "Good" Idea:
Do you ask "what's in it for me?" It may be time to think re-think your motivation.


3 Responses

  1. Emily says:

    Soul. Brother.

    I am WITH YOU. I’m a big ball of self-centeredness more often than I’d like to admit, and surely more often than I realize. It upsets me that I’m needing to *learn* how to become more generous, how to think of others before myself; how can a good, solid human not know how to do these things naturally?

    Stepping out of self.


    • Mark Shipsey says:

      Emily, you’re a delight to all who know you! One only need to look at your children to find obvious evidence of your solid humanity! The way feed your world with goodness, love, and generosity is inspiring! Don’t forget to include yourself in the list of all you love so well!

  2. Mark R says:

    Mark, that was a great article. I was looking for something regarding a chapter I am writing in my first book and I pulled up your article. Thank you for your insight.
    Mark R

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