1.9 Ennobling or Self Serving?

Posted by Mike Kaaks

02 March 2019

1.9 Ennobling or Self Serving

We started this journey considering the question of being vs doing, listing knowing our values as a central part of understanding our being. This page is an opportunity to dig a little deeper into the issues around values.

To ennoble is to lend greater dignity or character to someone, to make someone more worthy of admiration. It’s about the other, not the self.

Self-serving is being preoccupied with one’s own interests, often disregarding the truth of a situation, or the wellbeing of others.

When we look at ourselves through these two alternatives we would like to answer that at all times we are in the ennobling camp. Yet when we look out at the others in our world we readily see many who fit the self-serving label.

There are shadows of leading and managing here too. The qualities describing ennobling behaviour are all things that we see in good leadership. Delegating is a way of making others feel more worthy, in their own eyes and in the eyes of others. For some however delegating is seen as a risky business. Putting their own success in the hands of another means being no longer in control. There is a chance I might lose some of my power and influence. How easy do you find it to hand responsibility for an issue over to a colleague lock stock and barrel?

I’m reminded of one of the key lessons I was given about coaching. In the short term giving someone the answer to their question is quicker and simpler than helping them find the answer within themselves. But they will be back for answers again and again if you follow this path. The better solution in the long term is to equip them to find and act upon their own answers. Beyond questions of efficiency this behaviour also lifts the person who now makes their own decisions. More briefly it’s the proverb “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”.

Whilst ennobling values clearly open doors for others, they bring fulfilment to those living such values; ultimately contributing to our own wellbeing.

Perhaps the ultimate fear of the self-serving person is that in enhancing someone else’s world they might be diminishing their own. That is certainly not my experience. When we lift others we inexorably lift ourselves.



  • Dignify
  • Praise
  • Acclaim
  • Recognise
  • Esteem
  • Commend
  • Modest

Self Serving

  • Selfish
  • Subjective
  • Pompous
  • Inlated
  • Prideful
  • Humiliating

1.9 cont

Good intentions ennoble us, and we are the sons of our deeds

– Miguel de Cervantes

Absolutely You