Sometime ago I sat in dialogue with a wise man called Leonard. A deeply spiritual man, sixty-three years of age. He would be retiring from the profession soon and I hoped to pick his mind some more before he departed on his caravan tour around Australia.
I asked him how he measured his contribution to society and the world, based on the good work he had done. He had led, inspired and mentored thousands of young men and woman. He had been a leader and pioneer in several industries.
He told me that he measured his success in life based on how kind he had been to others. I kept probing – “But what about when you did x?”. He looked at me with gentleness while he explained his approach again.
He was more interested in the quality of everyday interactions he had with others, rather than any fame or wealth he had created. He exposed the reasons why he never sought recognition for the work that he did; he did it because it would help those in his community.
Prior to this conversation I had a shaky belief that my life would be for naught if I did not accomplish something magnificent with it. That if I wasn’t remembered for anything other than being great, I would be less than my potential. This begged the question of what large contribution would I make that would appease my enormous ego and give me the self-validation I yearned.
This conversation with Leonard cased a subtle shift in my thinking. Only subjective at first, regrettably. Now inside my mind I felt like this:
“I took aim at a dream;
Rejected a mediocre existence,
Then settled on something in between.”
Probably not how my mentor would have wished to have his advice applied.
To integrate a concept like “above all be kind“, you have to first be kind to yourself. It takes time and practice to become good and new things.
And so today I offer a rewrite:
The beauty is immense
When you apply skill,
To be kind, above all else.