Most, if not all, of us, have a desire to contribute. We want to make a difference, leave a legacy and make our mark in the world in the hope that we leave it a better place when we depart than when we arrived. Furthermore, it is innately human to feel compelled to grow and develop and have others grow and develop around us too. But what happens when we contribute but cannot – or will not – accept the contribution of others? Do our doubts, lack of confidence, fears and anxieties cloud our awareness of how much others are contributing to our lives all around us every day? Does our self-talk of not being appreciated have us ignore or not be open and receptive to the support of others?
Many people are surprised to learn that contribution is a two-way street. They consider their desire to be of service and support others is all that matters and must mean they have a healthy relationship with this Primary Way of Being. The following ontological distinction of contribution, one of 31 Aspects of Being in the Being Framework™ and explored in detail in BEING – the source of power by Ashkan Tashvir, clarifies what I mean here.
Contribution is when you are available to support and compelled to be of service to others to achieve what they are committed to and are also willingly available for others to support and serve you. It is an outward manifestation and expression of your care for others and humanity in general. Tashvir, A. (2021). BEING (p. 419). Engenesis Publication.
Resisting the contribution of others
Our sphere of influence and impact on the world often occurs to us as narrow and limited. In truth, however, nobody achieves effectiveness and success on their own. At some level, directly or indirectly, we all rely on the contribution of others to support us in our quest to achieve our objectives and make a positive contribution to others. People who have an unhealthy relationship with contribution are often perceived as unreceptive or closed off and unavailable for support. They may experience being unappreciated, resigned and cynical towards other people and question their motives. And they may mostly find themselves dealing with challenges and breakdowns on their own. This unhealthy relationship can grow and manifest into addictions, depression, isolation, and resentment, potentially leading to more significant problems like family or partnership breakdowns and work and career issues.
In our quest to improve or deal with an unhealthy relationship with contribution, we may read self-help books, follow ‘gurus’ or attend courses. We may seek counselling or other forms of therapy, lean on vices or try various medications to mask the pain. However, we often come up empty-handed.
Let me share an example of what it looks like when we resist the contribution of others. So far in my career, there have been numerous learning moments. Many of these opportunities occurred to me at the time as unwarranted criticism and manipulation by my superiors. Their advice was not what I wanted to hear. Rather than taking each piece of advice on board as a well-meaning contribution, I blamed myself for not being good enough and others for not understanding or for giving me what they thought I wanted and needed. So I began to tell them what I thought they wanted to hear. I figured that as long as I produced results, management would not look any deeper and try to contribute to me. I was under the impression that I had to hide my thoughts and emotions behind a persona of bravado. But in so doing, I was hiding the real me.
How are you being with contribution?
Consider that contribution is everywhere, and that you can choose to be generous in giving and receiving. It’s part of the flow of life. Contribution goes both ways and requires the vulnerability to be open to hearing things you may not like and saying things others may not like. It is an outward manifestation and expression of your care for others and humanity in general. It takes courage to both speak and be receptive to hearing the truth. However, our moods and feelings are often fickle. Some days we can be with them; other days, we struggle. With all this going on, we still want to contribute to something bigger, yet our efforts are often thwarted.
To reiterate, when I talk about contribution, I am referring to a way of being that makes you compelled to be of service to others to achieve what you are committed to and care deeply about. It is also when you are willingly available for others to support and serve you without it hurting your pride or damaging your ego. If you cannot acknowledge the contribution you are making because you believe people don't understand or care, it will lead to ongoing impacts. It may lead to you being overly nice as a way of avoiding hearing someone’s contribution in the form of honest feedback. It may cause you to be agreeable to the point where you refrain from being open, honest and straight with people. Ironically, an unwillingness to be contributed to has an equal and opposite reaction to your experience of contributing to others. In other words, if you are unwilling to be with others contributing to you, it's likely you will also experience not being contributed to or appreciated by others. Think about it. If you are not open to receiving support, why would others expect you to give it? It just doesn't work that way.
Recognise your unique contribution
Your Unique Being is an integral contribution to humanity. Being present to how you are being with contribution enables you to grow from the mistakes and lessons you learn and integrate them into your life. Let me paint a picture of the impact of not being present to one's own contribution. As a young man just starting out on his career journey, I naturally wanted to be effective and succeed. I was working in a high-pressure sales environment in which there was a sharp focus on getting the sale, almost at any cost. To avoid people feeling as though they needed to contribute to me more than they would to others, I deliberately kept my hidden disability to myself. My strategy seemed to work as I became more successful, taking on leadership roles and developing others on my team. On the inside, however, I was conflicted. I felt unappreciated and neglected for the best roles and secretly knew I was not dealing with the impacts of my disability. Despite all of this going on, the team was producing outstanding results, growing to $25 million in sales annually.
It wasn’t until I had a conversation with a colleague years later about the difference we had made to the people we worked with that I realised the contribution I had made, as many of the people I had contributed to back then were now leaders in their field. This awareness hit me like a bolt of lightning. I was overwhelmed with the fulfilment and satisfaction that came from acknowledging my part in supporting and contributing to those individuals – all the tough conversations, the hours of training, development, mentoring, teaching and coaching. It is easy not to see the difference we make when we are not consciously present to our contribution. Ironically, I was so focused on trying to contribute to others that I couldn't see this quality for what it was. But in allowing my colleague to contribute to me by raising my awareness of my contribution to others, I became present to my Unique Being and the unique contribution I was making in the world.
We can be blinded by all the things we need to deal with daily and not see the difference we are making. Looking back over your own life, do you acknowledge yourself for the contribution you have made to others and the contribution others have made to you? Or do you focus on your regrets, mistakes and faults? How vulnerable are you to allowing others to contribute to you, and what do you care so deeply about that you feel compelled to make your unique contribution to the world? This is how contribution as a way of being supports you in manifesting the projection of your Unique Being – the real, authentic you – to the world.