The Emotional Clarity Of Contribution Unleashes our True Potential
In last week’s post, we looked at the role fear plays in preventing us from getting things done and its impact on self-discipline. This week, we continue with the topic by moving beyond the exploration of our fears to finding a more powerful place of emotional clarity.
Once you’ve answered the question “What are my fears about this (project, task, conversation)?” you have achieved a certain degree of emotional clarity about why you are not disciplined.
In the case of the situation I wrote about last week — working on my book project — it became emotionally clear that I didn’t want to feel failure or inadequacy. But if I want to get up in the morning and write, I need to have an even stronger center of gravity. What might be a different emotional pull that instead of squashing me into bed, propels me to leap out of it? If all I do is see the fears, I’m stuck with them. One of those alternative emotional pulls lies in the power of contribution goals. Here’s my example:
I know that there are millions of youths out there who feel the isolation and despair today that I did as a young man. And while my book will not be perfect (see my fears listed in the last post), if I can share something meaningful that opens a door of hope to even just a few of them, that really matters to me.
If I step back and take a look at the broader perspective of my life when I’m 80 and I ask myself, “Well, what really mattered to me?” is it going to be that I made a difference to those kids, or that I protected myself from feeling inadequate? The obvious intellectual answer is the former. The problem is that we don’t know how to cultivate that emotional clarity at six o’clock in the morning when the alarm goes off.
That is why developing emotional clarity is a skill, a muscle to exercise. Search for that sense of purpose, learn to bring it back into the present moment and use it to feed your ability to take action.
Think about something personal or professional that is important to you that you have been putting off. This could be the same item you used in the exercise from last week’s post. What’s the contribution you’re excited you could make, if you made that thing happen?
Don’t settle for your first response! Keep searching until your contribution inspiration overwhelms your fears. Therein you will find the power to act. We would love to hear your comments and questions.
In next week’s post, we will continue with this topic by looking at another source of emotional clarity: learning goals.