When is Intelligent Self-Interest Different From Enlightened Self-Interest

I received the following comment to the blog post I wrote on intelligent self-interest. I included the link for those of you who wanted to read (reread) it.


Here are the comments:

You seem to have taken the reverse side of the coin marked ‘Enlightened Self-Interest’ which encourages us to take up the burden of community involvement.

The reasons to exercise ‘enlightened self-interest’ include maintaining an environment (physical and social) that can be enjoyed. And in cocktail conversation it takes us inevitably to discussing whether there are pure ‘altruistic acts’. (I vote in favor, by the way).

So would you expand your blog to discuss where the balance lies? When are the times you (personally and specifically) say “yes” with less regard to intelligent self-interest and more toward enlightened self-interest?

Here is my response:

Thanks for a well thought out comment and excuse my delay in responding. I found your comment on Plaxo.

The premise behind this post is simply our intelligent self interest: The key being intelligent. There is no difference between intelligent self-interest and enlighten self-interest from my perspective. Both come from the same source: Our need to take care of our self. For some of us there is no intelligent in self-interest. At this point it is all about me. When the word intelligent in introduced it changes the meaning of self-interest.   

Let us look at the definition of Intelligent Self-interest:
The word intelligent, according to the web site www.etymonline.com, means a “faculty of understanding,” from L. intelligentia “understanding,” from intelligentem (nom. intelligens) “discerning,” prp. of intelligere “to understand, comprehend,” from inter- “between” + legere “choose, pick out, read.”

The work selfish comes from the word self.  Self, according to the same web site, means “one’s own person, same,” synonyms included self-seeking (1628), self-ended and self-ful.

The word interest comes from interresse “to concern, make a difference, be of importance,” Interesting meant “important” (1711)

If we put these definitions together we can see the intelligent self-interest simply means: intelligent – to understand, comprehend and chose, self means self-ended or for our own self and interest means “what’s important.” For our purposes let define intelligent self- interest as meaning that we understand, comprehend and chose what is important to us. In this definition we are to define what is important to us and chose how this is important to others.

When you remove the intelligence from self-interest you are also removing enlightenment. At that point you have only self-interest, which is essentially childish selfishness: It is mine and I want it now! 

I have new book I am finalizing that discusses this topic in real detail. It defines intelligent self-interest, the eight behaviors to implement intelligent self-interest and is loaded with examples of people who changed their life and their business using these concept. Let me know if you want a copy and I will email you when the book is ready. The title is Taking Inspired Action: Nine Secrets to Business Success.

I hope this answers your question.

To Your Continued Success

Ron Finklestein