I feel fortunate to be surrounded by a community, both personally and professionally, of people that are amazing.
By that I mean they are thoughtful, courageous, kind, astonishingly accomplished, and mission-focused.
Although their fields of commitment and areas of expertise differ greatly, each of them has a sense of purpose hard-wired into them to do good in the world– either providing direct aid or leaving a wide wake of improvement behind them through policy, action, and contribution.
I like to consider myself among them.
And… I must confess… that’s a tricky “like.”
It leads to the need for a confession: I like to be considered, “a good person,” that is doing good and being good. I like imagining myself being “seen” and known as that “good.”
Because I like how it feels… and… because it’s been dicey for me, and perhaps you will find it relatable, I thought it worth exploring and sharing with you some of my insights and learnings about “being good.”
First, in case you aren’t familiar with me, I’m what the coaching world calls a heart-centered professional.
My business is helping people to develop and flourish.
That can mean all kinds of things according to who I am working with— (and I say “with” because it is a collaborative process) ranging from the tactical and strategic guidance to the deeper inner work.
Where I get into trouble is in my efforts to try to “be good” rather than do good work.
The first sign of a blurry line for me resides in the words “try” and “efforts” … Try can slip into forcing or wanting… both of which have a big energetic difference from the purer motivation.
If I start forcing or being a little desperate to “help” and be the “hero,” then I have crossed into wanting to “be good” and seen as good, rather than living the actions of it and just doing good.
Another tip off that I am straying into egoic territory is in attaching my identity to the action.
Because, as you can imagine… that can quickly devolve! For example, if I have a client who is really struggling and resistant and I have pinned my identify and value on my results… well, I too am struggling and resistant rather than being in relationship with someone who is struggling.
If my identity is tied with the success of others, then I am also handing over the steering wheel of my personhood to outcomes that are not in my sphere of control.
Who wants their esteem based on something extrinsic and ephemeral?
Aside from straying into territory of ceding responsibility where you don’t want to, why does it matter if you are forcing and “trying so hard”?
Generally, when you are in a mode of forcing, you are so singularly focused on attaining your desired objective that you lose connection with yourself and other people.
You can mow people over, you can fail to listen to them when they may have valuable information or insights to share, and you can’t “hear” your own inner guidance… the one that is coming from reason and seated in your principles.
A person who only sees the end goal, only sees the end goal.
That’s not only a difficult person to be around, it is also not a fun condition to live inside of…
Life is rich, beautiful, and dynamic. If you are immune to input, you miss out on some marvels.
One of the simplest antidotes to the quicksand territory of “being good” or a blind-eyed drive is a concept of “following the good.”
In using that language, it sets us up for a path-oriented life.
In following a path, there is no goal to “get to,” no ultimate, no destination.
Instead, in treading a path you live fully in the present moment, focused on a way that allows you to assess clearly to take the next indicated action, and then continue to follow good as it opens up.
It doesn’t mean that it’s all easy.
Impediments and challenge can present themselves on the path just as they would if you were on a hike.
Rather than signposts of trouble, they may be invitations to ingenuity, collaboration, and up leveling our skills.
Doesn’t following a good path sound more fun than just “being good?”
ACTION: The Upside Challenge of the week is… to see where you might be working from “being good” instead of following a path of good.
Shift the approach.
Notice the difference in your experience and the outcome.
The world needs you and your brilliance – and your good – now more than ever.