If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will no doubt have noticed that one of the things I have regularly encouraged you to do this past year is to get very clear in your life about who you are being. For many weeks, I have reminded you that who you are being, is much more important than what you are doing.
Make no mistake, I still advocate BE before DO. I also recognize that a life filled with only being, will, in the end, seem very hollow. In fact, I can’t think of any bigger waste of a life than one that is spent in simply being. I have visions of a person sitting cross-legged in a candle filled room, practicing being. No action required.
As we enter this final month of 2017 (or DO-cember as I may start to call it), after months of reminding you to think about who you are ‘being’, I am finally willing to give the ‘doing’ part of life the emphasis it deserves.
December brings with it no shortage of things to do. We will be cleaning and decorating our houses, preparing food for friends and family, buying and wrapping gifts, entertaining at home and attending parties. For most of us this will all be in addition to our already full ‘normal’ lives.
In fairness, you may be wondering the following: If we are already so busy doing, why am I bothering to spend time writing about the importance of doing? Don’t we already get it?
Clearly, we are all excellent doers. In fact, our days are filled to the brim with doing. Most of us would happily step off the do bus at the next stop and simply be. And therein lies the paradox:
While we are checking things off our lists by doing, I usually ask you to focus on who you are being. And yet when you have finally learned to focus on being, I am now asking you to consider what you need to be doing.
Being without doing is as hollow as is doing without being.
Untangling this is about as challenging as untangling the Christmas lights that we so neatly placed in boxes at the end of the last season. And yet once we have done the untangling, the beauty and peace it brings to our lives and the lives of those we interact with is immeasurable.
If it is true that our deeds are our monuments, then it is critical that we think carefully about our doing. The things that we do, our deeds, will be what is left when we are not. When I think about the monuments that I am building with my deeds, I hope and pray that my best monuments will not be made out of dish cloths and recipes and shopping for the perfect gift. Likewise, I hope that my best monuments will not be made out of my pretty website, tests that I have marked or meetings that I have attended. Or out of things I have bought, restaurants I have visited and hair cuts I have received. And yet all of these things have been on my to do lists many times over. Clearly, simply doing is not enough.
I would love it if one of my monuments was made from the education that children received from me; both the students that I taught in Canada and the students for whom I helped provide an education in Kenya. In the doing of these activities, I strove to be compassionate, kind, and generous. I would love it if another monument was built from the strong family that I have nurtured and loved. In the doing of the things I did for my family, I strove to be supportive, open-minded, loving and a good role model. And if I was so lucky to have a monument made from people I have had the privilege of calling my friends, I would hope that it would be built on my kind treatment and appreciation of them. These are three monuments that might survive the test of time. In all of these cases while I was focused on doing I tried not to lose sight of who I was being.
When I have been encouraging you to think about who you are being over this past year, I have been encouraging you to practice being the person you strive to become. What I am asking you to do this week, in all the busyness of this season, is to continue to think about the person you wish to become, and to think about whether what you are doing is bringing you closer to being that person.
If it is not, then you may want to consider either removing the doing thing from your list or choose to be the person you strive to be while you are doing.
My inquiry for you this week is, ‘What monument am I building with my deeds?’
Elizabeth creates and facilitates custom workshops for corporate, public and private groups. She provides leadership coaching for individuals and groups. Book a session with Elizabeth to learn how to build lasting monuments.