If You’re Not Drowning…You’re a Lifeguard

Photo by Cristian Palmer on Unsplash

When we think of wealth, we begin with one number: a million.

Let’s say a million dollars. To most people, that’s a lot of money.

In Monaco, it buys you a closet. In Chelsea, London, a garage. In Los Angeles, you might buy a one-bedroom apartment.

A million dollars allows you to purchase 27 Tesla Model 3. Or you can use the same million to buy almost one-third of a Bugatti Chiron.

There’s this old joke about a guy winning the lottery. Obviously, reporters come to his house.

“What are you going to do with the money?” the reporters ask him.

“I’m going to pay my debts.”

“And with the rest?” they inquire.

“Well, the rest will have to wait.”

Poor and rich are mindsets. Abundance and scarcity are mindsets. Two sides of the same coin. We often find ourselves traveling along the edge of the coin, trying to decide.

“Is it enough? Do I need more?”

Do we ever come up with a “yes” followed by a “no” to those two questions?

Seth Godin once wrote a remarkable short piece that ended with the following words, If you’re not drowning, you’re a lifeguard.

It made me think.

If we’re not drowning, it’s our responsibility to help others.

Most of us aren’t drowning. We’re not. We have a roof over our head, we have stable and fast access to the internet, and we earn enough to pay the bills, to go on a vacation or two every year.

We’re not rich, but we’re not poor either.

Yet, regardless of how much money people have, or how much they earn, most of them are not enjoying the benefits of a mindset that revolves around abundance.

If You’re Not Drowning… You’re a Lifeguard

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”

Oprah Winfrey

No one can help everyone, but everyone can help someone. It takes either a bit of time, a bit of kindness, a bit of effort, or a bit of money.

We all have an abundance of something, we just don’t want to see it.

I know this sounds idealistic to the point of being naive, but we could use a bit of naivety going forward. We could use this as a tool to recognize that the next step after we assume responsibility for our own lives, is to assume responsibility for someone else.

If you want more, you’ve got to help others get more. If you want to become more than you are, you’ve got to help others become more.

If you want to earn more, you’ve got to help others earn more.

If you’re not drowning, if you’re not busy trying to save yourself, the single best step you can take in the direction of your dreams is to help enough other people make their dreams come true.

This goes beyond satisfying someone else’s needs, it’s about having the inner fortitude to get rid of your desire to conquer the world.

First, conquer yourself.

Then, help others conquer themselves.

And then, only then, can you set out to conquer the world.

We live in this wonderful world of technology, we’re interconnected like never before. Everyone’s a Skype call away.

Physical distance no longer exists.

Yet, we feel alone. We struggle to connect with people, to build meaningful relationships.


Because we’re afraid of share what we have with others. We’re selfish about our time, about our resources, about our skills and abilities. We’re impatient to assume the world, yet we cannot even help our next-door neighbor.

It’s a sad truth of life, and it’s one of the things we must remind ourselves of on a daily basis.

If you’re not drowning… you’re a lifeguard.


  1. Nice one Cristian! The more we can start thinking as a collective the better it will be for all of us. Really helping others is a matter of having more intelligent self-interest. What helps the less fortunate ultimately helps the world. I do believe that comes back to you – sometimes in the most unexpected ways

    Liked by 1 person

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