Breaking the shackles of self-importance

July 2, 2017

Someone I spoke to yesterday used the phrase "being a slave to his own self-importance." It encapsulated something I've been thinking about this week.

I am still fitting in some teaching around the days that I'm not working at Founders Pledge, and this week I put on a drum concert at one of the schools.

 

In anticipation of this concert I had been feeling incredibly anxious. I worried that my internship had been a distraction, that I hadn't put enough prep into it, and that the performances would be poor. 

 

But at some point I realised that the reason for all this anxiety was because I was worried about what people would think about me. Would they think I was a terrible teacher? Would they think I had neglected the job?

 

And I had to think to myself - what is the actual purpose was of this concert?

 

To give the pupils a buzz from getting up onstage and performing for their friends. To give them an opportunity to build some confidence and step outside their comfort zones. To hopefully put a smile on the face of the parents watching.

 

This concert, really, had nothing to do with me. I was a mere facilitator.

 

When I sensed the excited anticipation from the pupils leading up to the day, I knew that all would be well. I still had to do my job and prepare them as best I could, but ultimately it was not the quality of the performance - and so what anyone thought of me as a teacher - that was important. What was important was that the kids felt proud of themselves and had a great time.

 

Thinking about it like this allowed me to approach it so much more lightly. The kids did have a great time, and the concert was a great success.

 

This pattern has come up for me before. I would always enjoy function gigs much more if I reminded myself that we were providing a service. We were there to bring joy to the occasion, and to give the happy a couple an end to their wedding day that they could cherish; which is a wonderful thing to be able to do. If ever I got self-involved and obsessed with the quality of my own playing, I had a much more toxic relationship with the work. 

 

I've heard it said that depression and misery can come from an obsession with the self. I think in a roundabout way this is what I'm getting at. 

 

If we can get out of our own heads and consider the actual purpose of our actions - why, ultimately are we doing what we are doing, who is it serving, how is it helping them - and somewhat lose a sense of self, we can break these shackles of self-importance. Whenever I remember to think in this way, it always lightens my mind somewhat.

 

If ultimately what I am doing is helping people and making the world a better place, even in a small way, that's all I need to focus on.

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