Good for Something

“Aim above morality. Be not simply good, be good for something.” – Henry David Thoreau

Most men strive to be good, but how many could truly say they are good for something? My greatest joy in life is helping others to discover what they are good for.

It takes something.

People generally don’t feel safe being themselves. They aren’t comfortable in their own skins. They live reactively, basing their sense of self on how they think the world around them is receiving them and they all but ignore their ever-present magnificent inner reality. What’s worse is they often hold to the impossible notion that the world around them must be perfect before they can be not just good, but good for something.

I had a heartening conversation with a young woman recently who sincerely wants to be good for something. I’m confident that she can and in more ways than one, she already is. Her heart is in the right place, she has a keen mind and despite her youth, she recognizes that discovering what she is good for comes primarily from helping others to discover what they are good for, not just good at.

With this concern to serve, age doesn’t matter, position is unimportant, rank is irrelevant, let alone race, color, creed or sexual persuasion. Your value is independent of outer station. It is eternal and absolute. That said, you have to find ways to let it find expression through the lattice of uncertainty, insecurity and inexperience.

There is nothing more liberating than realizing that being good for something is not just a possibility, but at hand. Dare to come to terms with it yourself!

5 thoughts on “Good for Something

  • Realizing our value and the potential of our contribution is usually preceded by an urge to want to contribute more. It seems to me that begins when our innate unselfishness has the majority of our heart space. When we feed that urge, and starve the urges to fear and habits of self absorption that often come to dominate people’s lives, we naturally find the opportunities to be a valuable person that’s good for many things !

  • One of the things that I love most about sales is that to be truly successful (a professional!) one needs to basically forget about themselves and focus on the value that that are providing to the field that they serve. That is, they focus on contribution and truly being themselves instead of some contrived or trumped up image of what they think sales should be. After all, when all the dust settles around our lives and what they have and have not been, isn’t making a genuine difference what we really want to remember about ourselves? That would be discovering what we would be good for wouldn’t it!

  • I have heard it said to not compare your weaknesses to the strengths of others. Rather acknowledge your strengths and provide them into the world. Our sense of self does set the stage for being good for something.

  • Getting out of oneself is key here, for so long as we are wrapped up in our own process, progress ceases. Seeking to identify, connect, encourage, and draw out the inherent potential in others not only assists them, through well placed word or example, but aids us in moving along the path we would.
    We certainly can be our own worst enemies, yet there is a simple solution…DSFSQ if we feel the pull into “self”… Simply “Do something for someone quick!” which is always at hand!

  • I have absolutely found this to be true in my own experience. Working with many young adults lately, almost each one I’ve spoken to is longing to have a career that means something, where they can make a difference. It would be great if they could learn early the points that you have made today.

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