Greenleaf writes: [There are] some valid tests, some indicators that there may be real growth… First, two paradoxes: a concurrent satisfaction and dissatisfaction with the status quo… Then there is a concurrent feeling of broadening responsibilities and centering down…
There is a growing sense of purpose in whatever one does. The idea of purpose becomes important. ‘What am I trying to do?’ becomes a constant query. One never loses sight of this question.
There are changing patterns and depths of one’s interests. Old interests to which one was once attached drop away and newer and deeper ones take their place. Choices must be made.
[With maturity] one becomes more willing to be seen as he is.
…a further test is the growing sense of achieving one’s basic personal goals through one’s work…
‘Status Quo’ = ‘the existing state of affairs.’ Thus far, my life experience supports Greenleaf’s paradox. It is challenging for me/us to embrace the status quo AND to, at the same time, question its efficacy. This is easier for the gradualist to do (and Greenleaf, as we know, was a self-proclaimed gradualist). The ‘idealist’ and the ‘realist’ have a greater challenge embracing this paradox.
I have also learned that holding the life-question: ‘What is my purpose?’ (in Greenleaf’s words: ‘What am I trying to do?’) is crucial to my own growth. Here are three additional guiding questions I often hold (after the fact): ‘What were you trying to achieve?’ ‘Did you succeed?’ ‘Was it worth doing?’ The last question, for me, is the critical question.
As I look back upon my life, I also realize, as Greenleaf notes, that ‘patterns’ change and that what I am deeply interested in also changes with age (perhaps with wisdom) and experience. In seeking to be unconditionally response-able and responsible I must consciously choose. I must also accept that I do have choice (although I don’t always like this idea). Greenleaf notes, ‘Choices must be made.’ ‘Choices will be made’ – ‘I will and I do choose.’ My choices, as the poet Frost notes, will make all of the difference.
How many of us are truly ‘willing to be seen’ as we are? This might actually be impossible for us to do. Why? Because there are ‘parts’ of ourselves that are deeply hidden from us (they cannot be seen by ourselves or by others) and because they are deeply hidden it is impossible for us to be sure that we are ever ‘seen as we are.’ This is a bit of a disturbing idea. If you, gentle reader, wish to learn a bit more about this check out the concept of the JoHari Window.
In order to achieve our personal goals we have to discern them and name them. How many of us actually commit to doing this? For many years now I have striven to hold onto one goal and to live the goal. Simply stated, this goal is: ‘To live my call.’ My ‘call’ involves using my gifts, talents, abilities, skills and capacities to help address the needs that exist in my/the world. Given this definition, gentle reader, what is your ‘call?’ How are you doing in response to your call?