“Your real contribution to the world is who you are inside. Not what you do outside. For what you do has it source in who you are.”
I bought that book years ago. You know the one; but it wasn’t so simple.
I was forced to back track…
I remember sitting in the car outside the 7’11 where my mother dashed in for some more milk to feed our growing family.
My father and I got to talking, as we often did, about life and work and money. “You want to find a job that makes the best contribution in the world,” he told me.
I thought about that, a lot. Especially given my father’s example: He was a surgeon. So was his father and his father before him. But there was something else my father told me, over and over again: A woman can become a doctor if she really wants to, but she will never be happy or as good as a male physician because her first responsibility is to her own children and to the home and to her husband.
So eventually I gave up looking for “my work” and decided that my best contribution was simply to become a good human. To understand my own psychology. To deal with my past. To be in right relationship–with the Earth, my partner and then with my children. It was a life-consuming goal, but eventually I wanted more. I wanted my work in the world.
“What can I do to make the best contribution?” I asked myself over and over again.
I went to work for a handful of non-profits who were making a difference in the world: with children, with elders, with communities, with global education; and still, I wasn’t satisfied.
Until I changed the question.
What do I love? What do I love to do? What brings me alive? What gives me hope? What makes a difference–inside myself?
Once I found that, the meaning followed, the sense of contribution followed, and then so did the money.