The Biggest Mistake

Last week, toward the end of workshop, a young man who aspires to make a career out of service to others asked me this question:

“What’s the biggest regret, or mistake, that you made in your career?”

My paraphrased response is what follows.

The biggest mistake that I made in my career—a teaching, coaching, writing, speaking, and consulting career that spanned nearly three decades—was attempting to serve or provide help to others when I was essentially incapable of providing help.

That is, I was trying to help seekers and sufferers, presuming to know what was right for them, believing what experts had told me was the proper thing to say, and, all the while, I was seeking and suffering myself. I was offering myself to others—seemingly everything I had to offer—when I had no idea of who or what I truly was.

And now?

Truth be told, I’m still not capable of helping others.

What I’m totally capable of, however, is sharing a mutual journey of discovery with others. Hand in hand, we can hold still, fold inward, and explore where this journey takes us. We can resolutely support each other in the exploration back to the one thing we have in common—our source.

Is this you, too?

Do you yearn to help others? Are you a teacher, coach, or even a friend who so badly wants to serve?

It’s OK, actually wonderful, if you are. My experienced-based suggestion is merely this:

Before you lend a deliberate hand, know who you are and what you are made of. In fact, the knowing of yourself will be your greatest gift to the world and to others. This, and this alone, will be your legacy.

It’s not easy to admit, but until recently, I failed to understand that real service, love, is nonexistent from the perspective of the personal. Every move I made was a veiled or disingenuous attempt to fix me, to aggrandize me, to serve me.

Does who you truly are, who we are, share the limits and destiny of a “person?”

First, explore that question thoroughly. Come to see that the true Self can’t be broken or fragmented; it doesn’t require fixing or propping up. Understand that trying to help another person, an apparent fragment, is the opposite of help.

Then, in due time and absent of deliberation, you’ll be back in the world amongst so-called “others.” Not as a seeker leading seekers. Not as a sufferer who fortifies suffering. But as Love expressing itself fully, you’ll be more than ready to serve.