On Friday a man forced his way into the Jewish Federation office here in Seattle and opened fire with a gun. One person died. Five were injured (three seriously). Saturday morning I discovered that one of the women who was seriously injured was a colleague from my marketing days whom I like and respect a great deal.
I was deeply shaken.
Tragedy has a strange way of stripping away the shallow clutter and focusing your attention. That morning none of my comparatively petty worries or desires mattered. For a moment they all fell away and left one question - "What's really important?"
In my journal that morning, I wrote, "...it occurs to me how much more strongly we gravitate to what's really important in times of crisis and tragedy - and how what's really important is inevitably about something bigger than ourselves."
Tragedy silences the noise. It silences the ego and the short-term, near sighted desires. It silences the messages about who and how we're supposed to be. And it leaves that one question standing there...
What's really important?
It's so easy to get lost in our egos and desires and expectations. I'm as guilty of that as anyone. I sometimes get lost in developing the whole idea of Curt the Passion Guy and lose track of what it's really all about. That morning yanked my attention to what's really important. For me, even beyond helping people find passion, it's about being a catalyst for other people who want to make a positive impact in the world. That's my bigger-than-me focus.
When I start getting wrapped up in my ego and expectations, things start getting out of wack. I'm inherently on shaky ground. It creates a need for constant external validation. "What do they think of me? Do they like what I have to say? Do they buy into my ideas? Do they think I'm a complete twit?"
Remembering that it's really about the difference I want to make in the world immediately shifts the focus and stabilizes my footing. Not only that, it inspires me and motivates me. Plus it just plain feels good.
I'll leave you with some questions to ponder: What's really important to you? What do you hear when you quiet the noise? What difference do you want to make in the world? Are you doing it? If not, why not? What can you do to get started?
Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM