The One Quality We All Have That’s Actually What’s Wrong With The World

But that we also need for survival

Emily Steele
5 min readMay 24, 2022


Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash

What if
“what’s in it for you”
is simply
the beautiful reciprocity
that there is also
in it for me?

In discussing a collaboration opportunity with a potential business partner one time, the question, “What’s in it for me?” was thrown onto the table.


Photo by Radu Florin on Unsplash

Like the king of spades in a card game of “War” — *almost* the highest of the cards, *almost* the trump card — thrown boldly, cooly, confidently, *almost* sure of a win, but not so sure that the ole Ace wasn’t just around the corner in the hands of the opponent, ready to tip the scales back the other way.

There is no light, casual lancing of the quetsion: “What’s in it for me?” It is always heavy, dark, like a sudden enormous counterweight on the other side of the conversation-see-saw, immediately dominating and flipping the mood of the conversation.

“What’s in it for me?”

I can feel the weight of it now.


What do *I* get from this?
How do *I* benefit here?

This question has been stuck in the crevices of my brain for weeks now, like the tiny fibers of a mango trapped between your teeth.

I keep coming back to it.
Flicking it around.
Pushing on it.
Tossing it over, trying to figure out why it’s sticking in my head and not just passing through like 99% of the other questions I filter in any given day.



Emily Steele

lifter of heavy things: thoughts, words, weights, burdensome beliefs