It starts innocuously enough. A kind word. A perfumed scent. A look. A thought.
Thrill follows. Temptation begins.
The effect courses through our blood stream. Races like a wildfire across our nervous system. Heart pumps hard. Breathing is heavy. Mind moves miles ahead. Imagination unleashed.
Whatever the temptation is, be it physical, mental or emotional it’s poison starts unexpectedly and innocuously. And it acts like toxin acts on our system. It stimulates, accelerates, arouses, kindles, provokes, arises, hastens, quickens, rushes and then fatigues, tires, exhausts and in the end twists up inside and out and weakens us.
“Power and importance act similarly. Innocuously. Innocently.”
Power and importance act similarly. Innocuously. Innocently. But its affect is anything but innocent.
The other day, a trusted associate asked me how a business trip went. When I said it was an important one, he gave me a compliment. Told me I was important. I shrugged it off. He came back with this little innocuous ditty, “importance is as importance does.”
While I had no real idea what that limerick meant, or what he was intending to say, I knew I wanted to own it on one of those dumb t-shirts or a bumper stickers we see.
The ditty lingered though. Its implication, haunting me. Its insidiousness catching my attention like a shiny ball of tinfoil catches a cat’s eye as it wobbles, rolls and slides across a smooth floor after being tossed.
Important Questions About Self-Importance
“Importance is . . . as importance does.” Really? Here’s 10 questions I’ve been asking myself since that seemly innocent comment was made to me;
- Is it what we do that makes up our importance?
- Or is our importance due to what is done through us?
- Is our importance the result of our actions?
- Or is our importance a reflection of our values?
- Is our importance because of what we are? Or is it because of we stand for?
- Are we important because of what we make visible or because of our choices to be invisible and let others shine?
- Is our importance and sense of self worth based on our self-trumpeted affirmations or the professional personal quality we inspire?
- Is our importance the result of what we bring or what others take away?
- Is importance defined by how we show up or how others decide to commit as a result?
- Is our importance communicated by what we do or by how unattached our doing is?
In an “importance is as importance does,” modeled world, I invite and challenge all of us to be more mindful of temptation, to exercise vigilance and practice will power sufficient to resist the poisonous temptation of seeking importance – because in the end self inflation is a powerful venom. It’s exciting sure. But in the end it will wear you down and cut you down.
“…blame cannot make us any worse and praise cannot make us any better…”
A life long mentor of mine always reminds me that blame cannot make us any worse and praise cannot make us any better. It’s a more balanced perspective in a world infected with self-importance.