There may be men and women who have fought and blustered their way to the top of the heap without compromising their personal integrity, but I can’t name one. The list sure as hell doesn’t have my name on it.
It takes far too much effort – and ego run amok – to be in the spotlight… yet it’s astonishing how often I stand at the tip of the high dive and tetter totter before finally remembering how the big splash when I hit the water damn near drowns me. I don’t plan on spending another decade in therapy to discover the emotional carnage unleashed on the middle child, caught between the God Apollo and Shirley Temple, so suffice it to say, striving for the top of the heap – and actually getting there – has never brought me happiness.
Invariably, when I get caught up in admiring myself in front of the pool where Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection, I lose all perspective, ignoring advice, thinking that I’m the center of the universe, putting my individual desires ahead of the organization of which I am a part.
I don’t shun the spotlight. I want the “Cheating Death” blog to be read by thousands of readers. I work like an ant on a mission to get my digital publication, “Senior News Daily-ish” to open on the desktops and cell phones of tens of thousands of subscribers. But I must remember to let go of outcome, to enjoy the journey rather than get caught up in the unending marketing and promotion on social media that takes more time and effort than the labor of love, with so-called success measured by ‘Likes’ and ‘hits’ and the Holy Grail: going viral!
I see it all the time. I’m watching a friend who for years published a personal weekly blog read by a similar minded audience get caught up in publishing books and leading workshops and adding slick graphics to her website and calling attention to her interviews and appearances. Certainly not bad things to do and she has done them well, but to me the effort becomes more about self-promotion than the mission that inspired her. I sense the focus has shifted to advertising her ‘enterprises’ and elevating her image. I hope she can balance the joy intrinsic to her work with the egocentric requirements of shouting louder than the competition.
I haven’t succeeded at it. See the headline of this piece! Whenever I sought attention, I measured my success by the extent by which I achieved it. The regard I had for myself was in the hands of the audience. It was great when the audience applauded. And it was devastating when they didn’t!
Today my life’s journey follows a different route. I am working hard to make the projects I’m involved with, successful. But I’m asking Socrates and Aristotle to be on the Board of Directors, not Mark Zuckerberg and Martin Shkrelin. I’m downplaying individual aspiration in favor of the enterprise. I acknowledge as Socrates held forth, the gaps in my knowledge and embrace his intellectual form of humility that sought to address the blind spots. (In other words, I don’t know diddly about the digital world). And as Aristotle did, I understand humility as a moral virtue that embraces constant self-correction and self-improvement. (In other words, count to ten before opening my mouth and follow the acronym, WAIT, why am I talking).
Hey, wouldn’t it be great if this post went viral! Oh yeah!
“It is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble. Helen Keller