If I stop loving my kids when they don’t perform the way I want, or my wife when she doesn’t do what I want her to, you’d tell me I was sick. But how often to I not love myself because of the mistakes I made or the limitations I perceive?
I always wanted to be a soldier because I wanted to be a hero. I wanted to go somewhere, do something and be important. That mindset or ideal is hard to let go.
I was/am operating out of a need that one thing that will make me successful. I stopped writing and stopped my podcast for months because I felt like it just wasn’t getting any traction. If only, I thought. If only I could present that one speech, compose one amazing score, create that one amazing company, I could change the world, I would be happy. I want that person to discover me and suddenly I would have made it. And that’s why most of the ideas I have and chances I could take…I don’t.
Adam Grant, the youngest tenured professor at Wharton Business School shares an amazing insight in his book, Originals. He explains that despite what we want to think about the Steve Jobs, William Shakespeare’s, and Johannes Bachs of the world, the people who made the biggest impact on humanity were not one hit wonders. They didn’t just put out one piece of genius work. They put out a ton of work, of which some was bad, some was ok, some was pretty good, and one or two were life changing.
We get so caught up in doing that one thing that we never do anything, because why put something out if it’s not going to be amazing? If I can’t write the best book of the year, why write at all? Forget the fact that it’s good for a person to express themselves, or that one person’s message will reach someone the way someone else couldn’t.
The kind of thinking that we need to be amazing and create something amazing to be valuable holds us back and makes us regret our lives and see them as inconsequential. And we know its not true! Making great work doesn’t make you feel great. Some of the greatest minds in Western civilization saw their own lives as useless or inconsequential. Mozart, Van Gough, Kurt Cobain (ok, I grouped them together, but you get it).
Judaism sees it differently. You can’t just ship off to some place far away, behave gallantly, and be a hero forever. G-d gives us commandments to be done every day, often the same way and at the same time, for our whole lives. He gives us an infinite number of times to try again and again. Messed up yesterday? Great, there’s today. Messed up five minutes ago? Great, there’s now.
This idea of regular people doing regular things in order to slowly, day by day, according to no external goal, become better is how Judaism views growth and heroism. There’s no moment because there are countless moments. If you couldn’t do it yesterday, do it today. This offends our Western sense of breaking glass ceilings. But it’s doable. And, according to Adam Grant, it’s not just a Jewish worldview but it’s a truth that crosses all lines. The best people show up day by day, create day by day, and amongst the millions of the things they create, there are some real gems.
And if we want to get really deep, consider this: Are we valuable because of what we do, or who we are? If we consider ourselves worthy only because of what we do, we can never love ourselves or anyone else. If I stop loving my kids when they don’t perform the way I want, or my wife when she doesn’t do what I want her to, you’d tell me I was sick. But how often to I not love myself because of the mistakes I made or the limitations I perceive? With a mindset like this, how can you not be living in a cycle of negative and lack instead of gratitude and appreciation?
See yourself as intrinsically valuable. You’re already great. Don’t look for that one thing that will change your life; focus on doing the things today that need to be done. Write because you love to write, create because you love to create, and love the people in your life not for what they are doing but for who they are. If you can do that, you might change the world and love yourself in the process.
About the author: Jacob Rupp is a coach, author, speaker, podcaster, and rabbi. He is the founder of Lift Your Legacy, a community that helps people live a more authentic life. He has a regular, syndicated column that appears in ThriveGlobal and Medium magazine. To learn more about him or to listen to the Lift Your Legacy podcast, search iTunes or visit his site: liftyourlegacy.live