You’ve heard the story. There’s a yippy little dog who’s obsessed with his ball. He lives with his owner on the 37th floor of a fancy apartment building.
While the owner is getting ready in the other room, her date is tossing the ball around with the obnoxious runt. One toss goes awry and the ball bounces off the balcony. The idiot dog follows.
The little guy catches the ball mid-air, but it’s too late.
There’s a shadow side to all of this personal development stuff. Once we start improving, we see all of the other stuff that can be improved.
We see how we could eat more responsibly, work more efficiently, live more spiritually (whatever that means), be more (fill in the blank).
Now making things better isn’t bad. That’s not my point. And pursuing perfection means you’ll always have a ball to chase.
My point is that if you lose touch with the purpose of improving, then, well…
You’re just a dog who’s lost himself — literally — in the game at hand.
So what’s the purpose of improving ourselves and our lives?
Our culture is in love with terms like “greatness”, “excellence”, “success”.
These are bullsh*t words. What do they mean? How do we know if we’ve “achieved” them? (Hint: they’re dependent on being better than someone else.) They typically refer to external accomplishments.
Purpose, I believe, comes back to the experience we have from doing what we love and treating others well. It’s flourishing, thriving. It’s feeling free, “more alive”, love, connection. It’s true, deep satisfaction and fulfillment.
Again, it’s an internal experience. And this experience is what keeps us focused on life instead of the silly ball.
So, yes, we can obsess about being better. We can obsess about all the things that could and should be better and ruthlessly pursue improving them.
But if improving them isn’t in service of our greater happiness, joy, fulfillment, satisfaction — if we don’t truly feel greater peace, if we don’t feel more alive as a result…
While keeping your eye on the ball, don’t lose sight of what really matters.
PS If you’re interested in learning how one on one coaching will help you get out of a personal or professional rut, click here to learn more.
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Developed by professional coach Tripp Lanier, The Daily Toolkit teaches you the small steps that create big changes.