It's Not Me, It's You (Or, How To Get Out Of Your Own Head So You Can Make A Contribution That Matters)

If you’ve ever been plagued with worry about the quality of the work you do or whether it will be ‘good enough’ to share with others, this post is for you.

I’m going to share with you the ONE simple question you can ask yourself that will allow you to make the best possible contribution in any area of your life, whether personally or professionally.

I’ve found that asking myself this question has helped me not only put better work out there, but have loads more fun in the process.

First, here’s how the creative process USED to show up for me.

Every time I worked on something intended for public consumption, whether for an audience of one or one thousand, I focused on how others would perceive me if I either ‘screwed up’ or totally knocked it out of the park.

In the first scenario, it was all heart palpitations and an olde-tyme-soft-focus vision of a fourth-grader surrounded by knee-highed and bespectacled classmates, hands over their mouths, pointing in her direction and laughing their pre-pubescent butts off at her utter and complete dorkiness.

(Think the ‘I-accidentally-showed-up-at-school-in-my-underwear’ dream.)

In the second, it was… the ego flexing its biceps. A massive throng of admirers carrying me through the streets on their shoulders. All of my ex-crushes begging for my attention. All of my ex-bosses-from-hell seething with jealousy at my success. Oprah herself (not one of Oprah’s producers, mind you) calling me to book a spot on the show. And me looking like a million bucks and going,

Check it, baby! Howya like me now?

I realize I have just admitted being a cavewoman.

But here’s the point: while I will probably never escape completely from the bounds of ego while I’m inhabiting this human body, having recognized where the ego was interfering with my work was a huge milestone.

Here’s why, and why it can help you too.

See, if you’re creating or nurturing anything- a business, a home, a relationship, a child- and you are focusing on yourself instead of who you’re meant to serve… well, you’re just not going to do a very good job of serving those people.

And you’ll cheat yourself in the process, too.

The bottom line is, we are here to give, not to get.

To focus outward with our gifts, not inward.

To find ways to contribute to the world, not to preserve our fragile egos by seeking ever and greater accolades for what we do.

No, I’m not an ascetic, or a masochist, or even just a wet blanket.

I believe we all deserve to receive everything our hearts desire.

But the beauty of giving is that it carries within it the gift of receiving.

Whenever I give you something freely, I always get something in return, even if only the warm fuzzies that come with generosity.

I could (and if you hang around me long enough, I will) wax on about the power of giving, but for now I’ll just cut to the chase and give you the ‘power question’ - the question you can ask to tease out your true purpose for doing whatever it is you’re doing.

So here it is.

Before you post that blog or send that email or ship that product, before you give that speech, even if (no, especially if) that speech is to your child about the importance of having neatly combed hair at school, before you make that video or begin designing that application- heck, before you go shopping for that birthday present… poke around inside your own head and ask:

Does this make a difference? Is this what someone needs? Is it what THIS person, specifically, needs?

In short, ask yourself,

Am I doing this for me- or for YOU ?

(“You”, of course, being anyone you are meant to serve. Whether it be one or one thousand.)

And here’s what’s cool about this.

When you totally, completely divorce your ego from your intentions, it really doesn’t matter whether your work sucks wind or rocks the house.

The simple act of putting it out there authentically will ensure that you haven’t wasted your time.

Someone, somewhere (and maybe even a lot of someones) needs what you have to offer.

Give it freely and without pretense, and watch the good that returns to your life.

I’m putting this out there because I believe there is at least one person who needed to hear it too.

Let me know if that’s you.

Helen Hunter Mackenzie