Those who are best at what they do, whether they’re in the arts, sports, or medicine, tend to be the best because they understand that their work is “bigger” than them. Like those people, your unique talents exist to add value to the world — not stroke your own ego. The best way you can add value is to stop obsessing over whether you’re good enough, whether you’re ready, or whether the conditions are right — and just show up, and offer what you can.
This is easier said than done, of course. It takes a great deal of willingness and vulnerability to be this gutsy, but when we challenge ourselves to allow our passions to be bigger driving forces than our egos, we’re more likely to find ourselves in positions where we can do truly amazing work. Here’s why.
1) You have to lose yourself to find yourself.
Ghandi said, “the way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” If we want to learn from people we admire, we have to learn to simply be in awe in their presence. Research has shown that when we’re in a state of marvel, we actually feel more connected to our social groups and are more motivated to act for the greater good. Losing yourself is orienting, inspiring, and has a way of dissolving our small, daily concerns and heightening our perception of vastness.
2) You can pay more attention to what’s happening around you.
The less time you spend in your own head, the more time you’re able to spend noticing what’s around you. When we’re not “navel-gazing,” we’re more open to spotting synchronicity, opportunities, and able to draw connections between actions and outcomes. Mulling over worries is the biggest predictor of depression and anxiety, according to a 2013 British study. Keeping it high-vibe in your day-to-day life is a matter of tuning in to the world around you. When you do this, you can trust good things will find you.
3) You’re able to meet people where they are — and can empathize.
In order to truly be of service to others, we need to be able to meet them where they are. That is, we need to be less concerned with trying to fix things or save the day. Simply being able to meet someone where they are, whatever their emotional state, without jumping to conclusions and trying to offer solutions, puts us in a position to empathize with them. Sometimes, this is the most amazing thing anyone can do for another person.
4) You release preciousness about your work and open up to collaboration.
When you release the need to be successful on your own terms — that is, when you release attachment to a self-serving outcome, you can create partnerships with others and work toward more powerful results. There is strength in numbers we just don’t have alone. When we’re immersed in working with a community, we tend to ask ourselves not, “what do I want?” but rather, “how best can I contribute, here?”
5) You get that it’s not personal — and so you can stay focused.
Those who’ve read The Four Agreements will know the value of this perspective. When it’s not all about you, you’re free to think and act in alignment with your values. Author Don Miguel Ruiz said:
“…even when a situation seems so personal, even if others insult you directly, it has nothing to do with you. What they say, what they do, and the opinions they give are according to the agreements they have in their own minds… Taking things personally makes you easy prey for these predators, the black magicians. They can hook you easily with one little opinion and feed you whatever poison they want, and because you take it personally, you eat it up… “
You choose to “ingest” the world through a lens of your own choosing. When you decide that the actions of other people don’t necessarily have anything to do with you, you’re less likely to let your ego determine your actions. Instead, the greater good is more likely to.
You stay focused on what you can control, you keep your side of the street clean, and have more mental space to do positive work. This is a beneficial attitude for you and for everyone around you.