What is the First Law about and what does it mean?


From childhood, we are taught that life is like a two-way street where we can expect that our displays of niceness, fairness, favors, hard work, and respect will usually help us get along with others and contribute to social success. As adults, we become a little more skeptical and cautious. We know that not everyone plays by the rules. But if we are so cautious, why do we still get burned, disappointed or blind-sided when someone acts selfishly at our expense?

It happens at work, in social groups and within intimate relationships every day – people pursue selfish interests at the expense of others. Suddenly we discover that we have been interacting with a someone person who does not reciprocate our honesty, loyalty, empathy or generosity.

But what makes us vulnerable? Let’s get rid of some self-sabotaging hang-ups…

FALSE: It is selfish to prioritize your own self-interests.
TRUE: Self-interest is NOT selfishness. Getting our needs and wants met is not selfish unless we harm others in the process.  

FALSE: If you’re a “good person” you must give and help others without thinking about your own self-interests.
TRUE: You are a “person” too. In fact, ensuring your own financial, emotional and relational needs are met can ultimately benefit the ones you love. 

MYTH: Success results from reciprocity. If I am honest, loyal, generous and hard-working, I will be appreciated and acknowledged in some way.
TRUE: Sometimes this is correct, but but selfish individuals will prioritize their own needs and hidden agendas over your goodwill and hard word.

Correcting these hang-ups is not enough. We need proactive tactics and skills to help us engage conflict and optimize success – with integrity. This can be very difficult because others do not always play fair. Our book, Modern Machiavelli, teaches you how to do it. 

~ Dr. Bruner