Thoughts on Excellence Free E-Newsletter Series
Volume 20, Issue No. 12a
May 1, 2022
By Dan Coughlin
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“The mighty play moves forward, and you will have an opportunity to contribute a verse. What will your verse say?”
Gosh, I love that quote. I first heard it when I saw the film, Dead Poets Society, back in 1989. It has been a driving force in my life ever since then.
In this series on The Inner Journey we have focused on identifying and surrendering your selfishness, establishing your desired virtues and morals, clarifying your higher purpose, and digging deep in discussions with other people.
And now the inner journey shifts to the outer world.
When I think of an inner journey contribution, I think of it as something you do for no financial or material reward. You do it because it emerges from your virtues, morals, and higher purpose. It literally is your soul’s contribution to some part of the world. Your contribution is your higher purpose in motion.
What Will Your Verse Say?
You have a blank canvass in front of you all day long. What will you paint on that canvass? What will you do so that your life speaks for itself?
I think there are two ways to contribute: planned moments and unplanned moments.
Planned moments are where you volunteer to work at Habit for Humanity or do taxes for poor people who don’t know how to do them or mentor a crack addict. You’ve made a decision to contribute, you searched for the right opportunity, and you followed through on your decision.
Unplanned moments are where you see a co-worker is hurting through a terrible divorce and you spend a few hours being there for this person, you get invited to give a eulogy for a young person you taught who passed away unexpectedly, or you come across an aging neighbor slipping on the ice and needing help getting up.
I heard a great phrase recently that says, The Ministry of Availability. It means not winding your schedule so tight that you can be available for people when they need you. Without knowing when they will happen, there will be several moments every quarter when someone will unexpectantly need you. You don’t know when or where they will pop up, but they are moments where you could make a real difference. What will your verse say in those moments?
Contribution is the Step that Makes the Difference
I’m a huge believer in reflection and discernment. I spend an inordinate amount of time reading, reflecting, praying, discerning, discussing, and deciding. But there comes a time for action. And it is in those moments that I make my impact with other people.
The same is true for you. I have really tried to challenge you throughout this Inner Journey series to step off the train of constant activity and to really reflect on yourself, to pray, to discuss, to discern, and to decide on what you want in terms of surrendering your selfishness, defining your virtues and morals, and clarifying your higher purpose.
But now I want you to decide on how you will contribute. What are you actually going to do as a result of your inner journey? This is the key question that leads into meaningful action.
Give it some thought, but not an infinite amount of thought. And then MOVE INTO ACTION! Contributing is about taking action. Go contribute who you are to another person. It doesn’t matter at all whether it’s in a big or small way because in reality there are no small ways to contribute.
Republishing ArticlesMy newsletters, Thoughts on Excellence, have been republished in approximately 40 trade magazines, on-line publications, and internal publications for businesses, universities, and not-for-profit organizations over the past 20+ years. If you would like to republish all or part of my monthly articles, please send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org with the name of the article you want in the subject heading. I will send you the article in a word document.