01 December 2012

The Need for Self Renewal

"To me, the greatest tragedy in life is to be ordinary."

--Emilie Griffin, The Reflective Executive

As we come to the end of another challenging year, one thing is evident: Life takes a lot out of people these days. For many, it's the price of living and working (or not working) in a hyper-culture.

More specifically it's a combination of ever-present technology, competing demands, doing your job and a third of someone else's, and the inability to turn off the devices--even when you can. 

Too much going out and not enough coming in is a problem in terms of health, family relationships, and job performance. All reasons for taking this condition seriously.

Failure to periodically refresh the human spirit is not only damaging to the person but has longer-term consequences for society.

Know thyself

An essential part of renewal is coming to terms with who you are.  This is especially true in terms of team-obsessed corporate cultures which tend to diminish the role and necessity of the "individual."

In Self Renewal, author John W. Gardner says, “Good mental health derives from a reasonably objective view of the self—including the acceptance of the self. We run away from ourselves failing to explore and probe the fearful and wonderful world within.” 

He sadly concludes, “The individual who has become a stranger to themselves has lost the capacity for genuine self-renewal.”
Some principles

Gardner, the founder of Common Cause, identifies several principles with qualities that offer realistic optimism about the renewal process, and our part in it:
1. Social and organizational renewal depends ultimately on individuals who have the capacity for renewal.

2. For renewal to occur there needs to be motivation, commitment, conviction, and values—the things that give meaning to life.

3. There will be no renewal for us, society, or a troubled world unless we share a vision of something worth saving.

4. The mind—not the external environment—is the main barrier to renewal.

5. No society is likely to renew itself unless the dominant orientation is to the future. The idea is to move forward with confidence, not blind optimism.

6. In the ever-renewing society, what matters is a system or framework with which continuous innovation, renewal, and rebirth can occur. 
Sources of renewal

Everyone is different but we've found the following to be reliable sources of renewal:
  • Helping those who can't do anything for us in return
  • Timely conversations with persons of great wisdom
  • A new challenge or change of scenery
  • Periods of quietness often with a good book
  • Recreation and rest--the two go together
What is renewing to you?
A self-diagnostic

Taking inventory is a helpful first step. Here are some areas of life upon which to reflect:
· Who are you?   The answer to this question is not a title or position. It has to do with what you deeply believe, care about, and value.

· Where are you now?   In life.  At work. In relationships. Toward achieving your goals.

· Do you know what time it is?   This is to gauge your awareness of reality and the moment in which you live. It has nothing to do with a clock.

· Where should you be going next?   Think opportunity. Maturity. Moving forward or stepping aside--both with a sense of purpose and direction.

· How are you going to get there?   We can't know everything in advance. Start moving and things begin to happen. The right people enter your life. Details become clearer. Stay parked and you'll never know what might have been.
A New Year's resolution

What about including an annual reminder on the calendar that says, "My life is worth renewing."   And once underway renewal has the potential to help bring about more of the same in others.

Restoration, combined with practice and perseverance, makes it possible to move beyond ordinary to extraordinary--which may be the secret of accomplishing great things.


© Bredholt & Co.