Stop right there. What do you do that makes you feel fulfilled?
When I first read Madeleine L’Engle’s A Ring of Endless Light (read it; it’s good at any age), I came across this passage:
Protagonist Vicky is talking with her grandfather about how she feels when she’s outside and part of the sky and sea, and how sometimes she’s very aware of the sky and the sea. But at other times:
“I’m there–but it’s as though I’m out on the other side of myself–I’m not in the way.”
I recognized this as something I’ve said to myself for a long time: When am I my most me?
In other words, when am I at my full potential?
I’m at my full potential when I’m doing something fulfilling, creative, and satisfying, when I’m immersed in things that nurture me and things I like to associate myself with, things that I know are good for me–yet when I’m doing them, I’m not thinking of myself at all.
There’s no “I” in the back of my head, shouting “Hey, look at me, I’m being creative, aren’t I cool?” Instead, I’m one with the moment, however long that moment is, the vessel through which it all pours, the genius, such as it is, burning.
I wouldn’t even say I’m always doing anything one could consider creative. Sometimes just sitting around and musing takes me places I’m glad to go.
Take a look at Four Innovation Lessons From Mozart. While one can shoehorn just about any apple and orange together and make it work, comparing Mozart to today’s entrepreneurs is at least a creative idea itself.
The last point in particular speaks to our full potential, our self-actualization:
“[Mozart] wrote: ‘When I am …completely myself, entirely alone… or during the night when I cannot sleep, it is on such occasions that my ideas flow best and most abundantly. Whence and how these ideas come I know not nor can I force them.'”
We all have this ability. Whether you sequester yourself in true isolation, recede to a space in your head no matter the distraction, or welcome those same distractions as a buffer, you owe it to yourself to know when you’re fulfilling who you are.
Plus, we do better when we’re feeling good about ourselves.
So spend some time doing what makes you feel good, even if you think it won’t matter to the world or make you any money, even if you think it’s silly or your should-do list is longer than sin or somebody snarks that you have wayyyy too much time on your hands.
As Martha Beck says, “It’s too late to feel guilty about enjoying simple things.”
So tell me: When are YOU at your full potential?