Are you serving a mission or serving an ego? Social exclusion, fantasy and simple kindness.
Allow me to add a morning shot to your macchiato ☺ I’m doing a 20 minute interview Thursday morning at 8.20am UK at the virtual Strategy Café by leadership consultancy Alembic.
I’ll be sharing my personal journey from confused NHS medic to working on sustainable development and health with the UN; and how being alone in Alaska was the key.
Register here if you can make it (or you’ll receive the replay). Your support will be much appreciated! http://www.alembicstrategy.com/events/strategy-cafe/
“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” Rumi
As a personal development geek, I can be found on a weekend absorbed in an obscure psychology thesis from 1980 on the pathological and health-promoting aspects of searching for purpose in life.
This week ideas around self-interest versus social interest resonated particularly strongly in the wake of the tragic London fire of Grenfell Tower.
Some of you may have donated or offered to volunteer or perhaps generously offered your home. It was heartwarming to see that volunteer and donation points were oversupplied.
Holding a thought for the residents and recognising the harsh reality of our society is a contribution too. You’re giving time and attention to contemplate what happened, how things could be better and what could be done differently in society. Not everyone wants to think about these wider issues.
But how do you reconcile the shortage of time, resources and energy in your life with the enormous social inequality, injustice and suffering in the world?
My view is that if you can’t add more good to the world, at least don’t add to its misery by acting out of ignorance…
DISTINGUISHING EGO-INTEREST FROM SOCIAL-INTEREST
As a doctor and working with other doctors and high performers who have a strong service ethic, I’m acutely aware of the subtle distinction between helping others out of service (serving a mission) versus helping others out of a need like the need for significance (serving an ego). See the short video for a bit more on this.
A huge dose of compassion is needed here with an injection of radical clarity.
Making a difference doesn’t mean you have to be a hyperactive superhero moving mountains, planets and universes between breakfast and lunch. You don’t have to set up a global NGO or be the top doctor in the country, who sits on more committees than anybody else and has pioneered such and such procedure of the left big toe. If you are that’s great.
However, if you’re more interested in the conferences you travel to or the diesel car you drive than in the fact that air pollution is an enormous problem affecting the most vulnerable the worst, there’s a disconnect. Your ego is driving the show. You’re not serving a mission, you’re serving an ego.
Worryingly, research published this week by Kings’s College on air pollution shows that the majority of health facilities in inner-London are in areas where pollution is above the legal limit. It’s great that doctors and health professionals mobilised as part of the global “Unmask my City” movement for the first national national clean air day this June.
TRUE SERVICE: BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE
As we plan our careers consciously and look for organisations, structures and vehicles to contribute our gifts and make a difference, it’s important not to get lost in grandiose thinking.
For example, if you always thought a traditionally noble profession like medicine was your destiny and you’ve lost your passion and drive, it’s OK to acknowledge this and accept the cocktail of emotions that arise - including guilt, fear of the unknown, anger. Through acceptance, life will show you whatever’s next.
Being brave enough to sit in the messy phase of experimenting and facing the unknown with courage will lead you to where you need to be.
In fact, if you want to help others, why not help the person right next to you in the canteen or supermarket queue? Why not show generosity, kindness and compassion and transform their day?
Heroically saving the world can amount to no more than a fantasy. On the other hand, bringing compassion, kindness and patience to whatever you’re doing as you go about your day, will bring more peace and joy in the world than you can imagine.
What differentiates true acts of service from egoic acts?...Aside from being infused with a nameless quality of compassion, kindness and joy, they are positively contagious!
These simple gestures are so powerful that they can transform the receiver and those who witness the action. They open the heart.
As a result, they ripple across space and time and move people to break through their day-to-day selfishness. They look a bit like this http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/texas-police-save-life-elderly-man-95-heat-wave-air-conditioning-julius-hatley-fort-worth-a7787291.html
Similar stories are coming out of Grenfell.
If you want to see more compassion, justice and kindness, bring those qualities into everything you do, now. You can and you will change the world.
Until next week.
News on Transform your career and life coaching (two places gone)
The two places I opened up this month for my coaching programme have been taken up.
Welcome to two inspiring doctors on the path of career transformation! One is a Trustee of a big medical humanitarian agency and is a child guardian; the other is a published poet and on his way to Yale to start an MPH.
I plan to open up a couple more spaces soon after upgrading my systems and making a few changes to create an even more extraordinary and fun experience!
If you’d like to hear about future opportunities to join the Create a Career and Life you Love transformational coaching programme, please, email me with “Let me know” in the subject line (firstname.lastname@example.org) and you will hear about it first!