How good are we, really?

Perhaps the question, “what do we do well” could lead us in.

Some may say, I play the guitar well. I am good at my job or I consider myself a good parent. But how good are we?

Though the evaluation of “good” can be subjective, we generally derive a sense of satisfaction from completing a task to the best of our ability. When we have given all that we have to a job, no matter what anyone else thinks, we feel good. On the other hand, if we have only offered a portion of what we know we are capable of, we feel like a failure. Even if we receive praise, we know we could do better. Dissatisfaction lingers.

Of course, there is an assumption here that we care about what we do and how well it is done and received. If not, neither the outcome nor gratification matters.

Consider what we engage in that we feel are done well. How did we arrive at such conclusion? If the assessment was derived from a external complement then, we know comparisons were involved. Even when self-evaluating, one applies contrast.

So are we then only as good as the next person is not?

In any contest, competitors need only be as “good” as they can win. But what about in tasks like parenting, meditating and shovelling snow, where excellence might be defined through subjectivity and conclusive opinion may not exist?

This is where being “good” become less about merit and requisite but rather, passion and dedication. In Ken Robinson’s “Finding Your Element”, he describes passion as “a deep personal attraction to something — a strong affinity or enthusiasm that can lead to profound enjoyment and fulfillment”.

Our passion is something that drives us. Something that we continue to pursue regardless of how “good” others consider us to be. What becomes of us when we pursue our passion is deep joy, continuous yearning and timeless gratification. Pure enjoyment calls us to the purpose. Compensation seems unjust.

These are the tasks almost “bigger” than us. We are not only engaged in them but they also engage us. We “do” them as much as they are done through us. What we cannot undo, what we are akin to and can only express as what we “love to do” is in fact, our natural essence and legacy.

In “The Alchemist”, Paulo Coelho calls this our Personal Legend, our gift to the world, our call to serve as much as it serves us. As we submit this virtue, we are “in our element”. We do as we are bestowed and that is how good we are.

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