True progress leads to lasting fulfillment

“True progress quietly and persistently moves along without notice.”  St. Francis De Sales

Years ago, not long after being promoted to designer at an upscale magazine in New Jersey, my colleague announced he’d be going away on a pre-planned vacation in a week and a half.

Normally this wouldn’t be cause for alarm, except for the fact that the magazine was scheduled to go to press on the very week I’d find myself all alone in my new position. While the design wasn’t necessarily an issue, the logistics and processes (not to mention the workload) was much more intense than my previous position.

And while my colleague did an excellent job of teaching me the ropes before he left, it’s not always so easy to remember when you’re thrown into the fire.

When Monday came, I was definitely feeling the pressure, but the work still needed to get done regardless. So I dug in my heals, asked lots of questions and somehow managed to get everything done (on time) with little to no issues to report.

When my colleague returned and asked how everything went I simply replied, “It was a good week – I learned a lot.”

It seems to me that in today’s society, we’re more concerned with managing our image than we are with patience and true learning as we “quietly and persistently move along”.

We’re all looking to make a name for ourselves, to draw attention to our accomplishments, to excel to great heights with little to no humility as we progress. Such behavior breeds ego and competitiveness and will ultimately do very little to build one’s character as we journey on through life.

My humble response to my colleague was all that needed to be said. I had a job to do and I was truly proud that I was able to accomplish it under the circumstances. Being boastful at that point would only have benefited my image, not my feeling of personal fulfillment.

Fred Rogers once said, “It’s not the honors and the prizes and the fancy outsides of life which ultimately nourish our souls. It’s the knowing that we can be trusted, that we never have to fear the truth, that the bedrock of our very being is good stuff.”

How much of yourself will you sacrifice for the honors and the prizes and the fancy outsides of life? Is the image people perceive of you more important than the person you really are and the job you’re able to accomplish?

These are difficult questions, which are not easily answered. But finding the “good stuff” in life is worth more than many people in this world care to admit.