Sabotaged Efforts
Ray Whiting

  

To accomplish anything excellent,
the will must work for catholic and universal ends
.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Many of you know that Emerson is one of my favorite essayists. I've not read all of his works, but what I have read is always wonderful. This quote is no exception.

Emerson is not saying our drive to excellence must be for the promotion of a particular religion. He is using the term catholic in its fuller sense -- universal, all-encompassing, embracing the center and circumference of a thing and all points in between.

"For the good of all" is the degree to which we must work. The reason is obvious -- anything less would prove to be self- sabotage. If we are working for anything worthwhile, we can't stop and think about who might or might not benefit. If we measure our effort to make sure Joe Blow down the hall doesn't get any credit, we are limit our own reward as well.

It would be like the farmer expecting all his fields to produce, but then only fertilizing and watering half his acreage.

I have seen this sort of self-sabotage mostly at work, but it also happens in homes and relationships.

It is often seen in the attitude that says, "I'm not going to give full effort because some other department is going to get all the glory," or "Our office won't participate in that project because someone else's name would appear with ours on the final product."

The world is full of examples of shortened efforts because some one or some group didn't want another person or group to gain any benefit. "We will promote family planning and literacy among this group, but we don't want people from down the road to benefit from our program."

This is foolish. There is nothing wrong with sharing the glory or having a group credit when the work is all said and done. But all too often I have seen ego get in the way of excellence. People unwilling to share the glory, or allow any one else or any other department (or project or family), to share in the benefits reaped are short-sighted, refusing to see that "for the good of all" includes them. They won't lose if others gain, but for some reason they feel threatened if they don't get it all for themselves. 

If there is a chance someone else might share in it, the ego- motivated folks temper their effort or stop it altogether. The result is that the final product is less than it could have been. 

Whatever you are doing, every moment that you work to prevent some benefit from going to someone else is another moment you are short-changing yourself. It is impossible to work for benefit AND work to limit someone else's benefit at the same time. 

Think about this the next time you are called upon to work for some great project or joint effort. Don't spend time trying to limit who will benefit. Work instead toward building benefit for as many as possible.


Copyright Ray S. Whiting, originally published in Two Scoops.  All reprints must be unedited and must include this paragraph.

  
    


 
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