Can you be content and not be at the top of the mountain?
The balancing act of being content with life as it is and seeking more is ever present. 'More' can take the form of knowledge/skills, adventure, life experiences, financial stability, time, success, etc.
Two events in my past have stuck with me over the years yet were seemingly innocuous moments. The more recent occurred 10 years into my career as I was co-interviewing a candidate for a director position at one of our 15 locations. My co-interviewer was the President of the company and during our post-interview debrief, I found he was not only bothered by but stuck on one single word this well-qualified and high achieving member of our company had said during her 2-hour interview. What was the word that created such a fixation? Content.
The president couldn't imagine ever having a leader believe that content was a reasonable objective for life.
The second event actually took place prior to my entry into the physical therapy profession. During undergraduate, I had the honor of being selected to tryout for the 1st ever US Women's Olympic Softball Team that was to compete at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. We were grouped into 4 teams and would participate in a round robin style tournament in order to allow the committee to see us perform against one another. I happened to be placed on the 'North' team alongside the undisputed best player in the world. Think Tom Brady, LeBron James, Wayne Gretzky. At the completion of one of our practices, as captain she had some closing remarks as we prepared for the tournament to start the following day.
'Never be satisfied.'
Both events occurred more than 10 years ago, yet I'm sharing a conversation around their influence in my life over the years. In the moment they occurred I was both on board yet uncomfortable.
But how could I be both?
Simple. In the moment, they equaled what I valued.
But I also felt on the inside that in the future they likely wouldn't.
Each situation demonstrated some similarities, desires, drivers, and wants yet the LENS, the TIMING, the PRESENCE of my being determined how I related to each.
We are constant (re)making ourselves and therefore the external world cannot know our purpose, our needs in any moment unless they are spoken or lived. My inner state of being of the past was fueled by the ambition to continue to serve the health needs of clients, and the workplace for that to happen created the dynamic for the ups and downs we each face. The internal conflict of commitment, energy, effectiveness and what we believe to be healthy circumstances in the long term manifested into true struggle. Could I be happy doing what I loved?
I live with the reconciliation of both having drive, yet being content today. I have existed in the furry that is the constant push, the extra effort, the doing more, the working harder. Sensing the competition, the need to survive, to outperform, to outlast for some ambition and destination.
Today I live a life of contentment. Valuing the way of being that reflects inner peace, joy, contribution, fulfillment, wonder and wisdom in order to live a more meaningful experience.
My relationship with success has evolved. I continue to strive but on my own terms. Not selfishly, but rather to explore myself, my purpose, and where in life I can contribute by simply honoring the world in which we each live. The destination I seek is much different than my prior self. In developing the skills of resourcefulness, perspective, clarity and stillness abundance exists within each day.
We each experience everything through our nervous system. What is your nervous system telling you?
Live. Feel. Think. DIFFERENTLY.