We’ve written often about the violence comparing ourselves to others brings about, as do the fearful questions of whether we are enough or not. We found a lovely, very simple way to reframe those big existential concerns in The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander, which is packed practical wisdom learned from the author’s own lives and work.
Unlike success and failure, contribution has no other side. It is not arrived at by comparison. All at once I found that the fearful question, “Is it enough” and the even more fearful question, “Am I loved for who I am, or for what I have accomplished?” could both be replaced by the joyful question, “How will I be a contribution today?”
…Naming oneself and others as a contribution produces a shift away from self-concern and engages us in a relationship with others that is an arena for making a difference. Rewards in the contribution game are of a deep and enduring kind, though less predictable than the trio of money, fame, and power that accrue to the winner in the success game. You never know what they will be, or from whence they will come.
Asking ourselves, How will I be a contribution today? softens our sense of things while opening up a feeling of possibility. We’ve found that the question applies equally to ourself in the world as it does to ourself WITH ourself.