“We don’t see things as they are. We see them as we are.”
What would you do today if you believed that you were enough?
How would you act and what would you say?
Who would you spend time with and how would you be with them?
If these questions seems strange, it is probably because we don’t ever ask them of ourselves or the people around us.
Perhaps we assume that we believe that we already believe we are enough?
Ask yourself this, how often do you doubt your right to be here (wherever ‘here’ might be for you)? How often do you feel the need to prove that you belong? Have you ever felt the absence of belonging? Have you ever felt dissatisfied with where you are in life right now, thinking that life would be so much better if you were somewhere else?
In Steve Jobs’ commencement address at Stanford, he talked about how having cancer freed him from the belief that he had to do anything to please other people. He asked himself every morning, “Am I doing what I want today?”
While the question is great and interesting, we shouldn’t have to face death to answer it. I also find it interesting when the answer is “no, I’m not.” This is where being enough comes into play.
There was a great moment in the 90s when Hakeem Olajuwon was asked if he thought that winning a championship would finally prove that Charles Barkley was a “winner.” (I don’t have the quote in front of me, so I will paraphrase.)
His response was to ridicule the question itself. In his mind Charles Barkley was already a great player and he was a winner. Winning a championship would not change that and the assumption that it would tells us more about the questioner than it does about Charles.
Here he is talking about character:
The confusion often comes when we conflate two things: doing and being.
We can applaud Michael Jordan for all of his accomplishments (his “doing”) and how hard he had to work to be as successful as he was. (This GIF basically sums up how he dominated the NBA throughout the 90s.)
Doing things takes ambition, work ethic, ego, discipline and deep motivation.
(Not going to climb itself.)
Being, on the other hand, doesn’t require any of those things. When we confuse being with doing, well, then we create confusion for ourselves and others.
Trying to prove that you are enough is like Mount Everest trying to prove it really is a mountain. The evidence is in its existence.
When we get confused between our excellence at what we do and our “enough-ness” in this world, our communication gets weird. We either become too pushy and aggressive, turning people off and pushing them away (trying to prove that we are enough),
or we become timid, shy and small, making it easy for people to ignore us (trying to hide our lack of enough-ness).
The gift of knowing that you are enough is that you don’t have to prove it. You get to communicate your excellence, your skills and your work-ethic without attaching it to who you are.
The more comfortable we are in our own skin, the more comfortable people will be with us.
The less we try to prove our excellence, the more clear our excellence shines through to others.
Strive to do. Stop striving to be.