“If you do not express your own original ideas, if you do not listen to your own being, you will have betrayed yourself. Also you will have betrayed our community in failing to make your contribution to the whole.”
— Rollo May (1909-1994), American psychologist, from The Courage to Create
Over dinner with colleagues last week, two familiar themes emerged on the topic of spiritual growth – i.e. where/how people find out what is the meaning of life. We decided that you find meaning when you (1) align your life to what inspires/motivates you & (2) serve/contribute to others.
These ideas, while powerful, weren’t novel to me. As a coach I’ve helped many people find their inspiration and how they can contribute to others. However, a new insight dawned on me in the conversation. The two really can’t be separated – they’re opposite sides of the same coin. Put simply, inspiration doesn’t hang around if you’re not contributing to others AND the most profound contributions you make in the world are when you’re inspired.
Rollo May sums up the implications of this insight in the quote above. Listening to your own being, getting clear on your passions and what truly inspires you and expressing your own ideas are not merely “nice to have” – they’re actually responsibilities – not only to yourself, but also to the communities in which you live, and ultimately to the world. On one hand this can sound like a burden, but on the other it’s quite the opposite. Living out your inspirations is the clearest path to creating a deep sense of satisfaction in work and life.
1. Answer this question 10 times: I feel like I’m at my best when _________
2. For each answer, give yourself a grade: A = I find the opportunity to do this often, F = I rarely find the opportunity to do this
3. Decide which matters the most to you.
4. For the ones that have low grades, plan to reintroduce them into your life.
5. For all items that matter most, ask yourself if/how you’re contributing to others.
6. Continue to find opportunities to bring your best self and your inspirations to others.
— Doug Sundheim is a leadership consultant, author, and speaker. He is currently working on a book on the topic of smart risk-taking
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