Saturday, January 14, 2006


being our best selves

i've been thinking a lot this past year about the drive i seem to have to "do big things." as long as i can remember i've had it in my head that ultimately i need to find success, and not just some humble, average amount of success - we are talking bigger than life, known and loved by many, on oprah kind of success.

of course in our celebrity culture, many of us feel this way. as though we have to achieve a serious amount of greatness and cultural recognition to feel we've found success.

the problem with approaching life from this perspective is really not about the desire to be wildly successful - it's about the feelings of insignificance that can plague you until you get there. reaching great heights of success and having a big impact is not a bad thing, but beating up on ourselves every step of the way is.

in the past six months, i've started to step away from this expectation of grand success. started to let myself off the hook and just live. being pleased with the impact i have now rather than always looking to the future, hoping for more. it's yielded good things, i like my life more, i feel like i'm living in the present more and enjoying it.

thus i liked the perspective i found on being our best selves and having a big impact in danusha veronica goska's article political paralysis in paul rogat loeb's book the impossible will take a little while: a citizen's guide to hope in a time of fear.

Sometimes we convince ourselves that the "unnoticed" gestures of "insignificant" people mean nothing. It's not enough to be our best selves; we have to be Ghandi. And yet when we study the biographies of our heroes, we learn that they spent years in preparation doing tiny, decent things before one historical moment propelled them to center stage. Moments, as if animate, use the prepared to tilt empires.
her perspective that everything we are doing in our lives today is significant and is preparation for the potential of bigger things is powerful. it allows us to go about our daily lives pleased and proud of our ability to touch others, to make our individual difference, and be our best selves while also knowing that these acts prepare us for a possibility of something larger.

do you recognize yourself for the impact you have in your world?

does your definition of success allow you to see the significance of your life today?

as always i'd love to hear your thoughts, post 'em here!


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