What you think is important – your priorities and how you organize them – says something about your character.
These people operate at the lowest level of our society. They are the scoundrels, the cheaters, and the morally devoid. Criminals have little regard for their purpose in the world and will pursue personal gratifications even if it means breaking the law. The general occupancy of these people’s minds is a self-centered, limited view of the world. The singular focus on the self leads these people to be massively unfulfilled; typically motivated by fear they experience a strong feeling a separateness with other people who are often ‘out to get them’. To permeate in society they must adopt a delusional arrogance – or else accept the truth of their nature and spiral into shame, guilt, and or perhaps even suicide.
People at this level recognize their responsibilities in life although a self centered attitude still dominates. The ‘what’s in it for me’ mentality is at the root of their intentions and although not criminals, they may still put immediate self interests above their fiduciary duties (such as not showing up to work or failing to honor commitments) There does exist a level of concern for other people – those closest to them – but it is often nothing more than asset protection. If there is something to be gained, they will double cross friends for personal gain. Self interest leads these people into a petty reality. They gloat, envy, and take offence easily.
Most people are served the experiences needed to grow into adults. Whether those experiences were a struggle for survival, a responsibility to raise children, or an internally generated desire for security and esteem – eventually they were forced to dethrone the little ‘me’ atop the ladder. When ‘me’ no longer prevails your ladder of priorities space is freed to evolve your self-concept. ‘Me’ is no longer what you can get out of life, but who you can become. Your spectrum of responsibility expands beyond what is required to survive to include what is needed to prosper. The quality of your character becomes important to you and you implement a sense of duty to your vessel of contribution (perhaps your profession, or role as parent)
Life will continue giving you new experiences. At some point you will vindicate a perceived system of values and place their adherence among your life’s priorities. Living with a system of values further dethrones the ‘me’ at the top and marks a fully matured adult. Sometimes this maturity is sculpted into people’s character through dire situations; situations where someone is dealt a nearly incapable level of responsibility. Parentless children raising their siblings, occupations requiring devotion (doctors, judges), and business owners providing essential service to communities… the experience of other people relying on you forces you to grow into a mature adult. ‘Me‘ once again moves down the ladder and again the self concept evolves. Your range of duties expand again as you implement values and traits deemed personally significant. You can’t imagine cutting corners and producing poor quality work. Integrity becomes important. Your capacity to care for other human beings increases and those closest to you are loved unconditionally. There are people in your life you would die for.
Leaders have evolved a sense of personal responsibility to not only a system of values, but the people who share in those values. These are people who’ve grown through extraordinary life experiences, they act with such power and consistency that others are compelled to follow in their wake. A true leader cannot come into being without transcending their own personal desires and replacing them with an extended array of duties and values to uphold. Again the ‘me’ moves down the ladder freeing the space for altruism and idealism.
Approaching the highest levels of human growth and maturity are saints. These people place responsibility and benevolence to humanity above all else. By evolving through all stages of development saints have cultivated a level of understanding that allows them to relate to nearly all human beings. Saints have achieved such closeness with other people they can’t help but feel compassion for everyone, even those who’ve acted against them. Saints are humble, having completely dissolved their egoic identity. Their experience of reality is marked with a peculiar sadness and compassion for people suffering but at the same time they radiate an extraordinary and pervasive joy brought on by their incredible capacity to love other human beings.