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The Emotional Clarity Of Contribution Unleashes our True Potential

Goals ConceptNote: This post is the second in a series.

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.

4 thoughts on “The Emotional Clarity Of Contribution Unleashes our True Potential

  1. I appreciate your personal example. I have a couple of goals that have been knawing my mind for some time. pretty sure there’s some fear involved, though i’ve not reflected too deeply. your post inspires me to delve deeper and take stock. i’ll keep you posted. and thank you.

  2. Maru and Robin,

    Thank you both for your comments. I’m really hoping to be practically useful in my posts — otherwise, why bother? If you get stuck, don’t hesitate to comment with a question or difficulty. It’ll push me to offer something additional that could be helpful to others as well.

    Remember, we can’t break out of our ego prison on our own. This is a collective liberation thing!


  3. 1: I believe that cluture does in fact play a major role in how you perceive the world. For example, there is a video where a little Islamic girl named Basmallah was taught to recite teachings of Radical Islamic Fundamentalists. She was taught to believe that Jews are Allah’s enemies, therefore they are our enemies. She was taught to believe that Jews are pigs and that they will never see the light of Heaven. She was only 3 years old at the time this video was taken. This shows just how much our cluture can affect our views on the world and the people who inhabit it. You can be taught to see the good in people, or you can be taught to see the bad in people.2: I believe that a stoic or emotionless state of mind will best aid in seeing the world with the greatest clarity. Reasoning and logic, I believe, are probably the most reliable ways to view the world (although it is certainly limited by human flaws). Emotions can easily manipulate your rational thinking into something irrational (like kids who wear their sister’s pants and have that one huge bang of hair and wear black who scream at their parents just because they don’t understand , even if the parents DO understand but the kid is too preoccupied with his angsty bullcrap to see things clearly). Seeing the world in the least subjective state possible (because it is not possible to completely let go of our biases) is probably the best way to live our lives, because that perspective of life allows us to see MOST (not all) of our errors in thinking and perceiving.

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