“There is no limit to the amount of good you can do,
if you don't care who gets the credit.”― Ronald Reagan
if you don't care who gets the credit.”― Ronald Reagan
NOTE: I wrote this post last year about this time but never published it. I just re-read it and decided I NEED to publish it- maybe someone else is experiencing this too. Also, the agonizing decision I made then has proven to be the right one and the individual selected has succeeded beyond both of our expectations. She's fabulous and I'm so honored to know her. Others have joined us along the way as well and the whole thing has been a positive experience.
I am a big-picture ideas person and the bigger the idea, the more I like it! This means that I am oft the instigator of fun or creative things, projects, programs, groups etc. When you are the starter of things, it's easy to get attached to them and think of them as being your "baby" because, in some ways, they really are. Giving birth to a new idea that can do good for a lot of people requires dedication in the face of doubt, belief that it's both worthy and possible as well as the ability to convince others of these "facts". Everyone pretty much knows that.
What everyone DOESN'T know or forgets (including me) is what Ronald Reagan so eloquently points out in the above quote. Credit is the stumbling block upon which many a great idea, friendship and personal satisfaction tumbles. Even when we think "credit" doesn't matter to us, it usually does to some degree or another. I wish I could say I didn't care about it but credit validates my ideas and causes me to be more daring in coming up with new stuff. It makes me feel good about myself. I like credit, much to my shame. However, learning to let go of the need for it is pretty important to my development as a person and thus I'm trying.
I'm working on a project now that I've been mentally planning for a decade, just waiting for the right time and opportunity. I've turned it over and over in my mind, honing the concept, thinking through the stumbling blocks, laying the foundation, gathering support and preparing for the right time to launch it. In doing that, I've come to the realization that what it will really need is the right "face" (person/personality) on it to help send this idea off into the world where it can make a difference. I've patiently waited for that "right" person to come along because I've learned through the development of big ideas in the past that they always seem to, just when you need them.
Today I met a wonderful woman who is sweet, beautiful, talented, outgoing, passionate and smart. She already loves this 'baby' so that's a good sign! I think she is the one piece that was missing and she will be the 'face' of the group. And while I knew for certain she is the right person, that knowledge caused a tinge of envy deep down inside. She will pretty much get the credit for my ideas and all my years of planning will be for her potential.
Don't get me wrong- she isn't TAKING the credit, she'll be EARNING it through her own abilities and talents but it has to be her rather than me in order to make the whole project succeed. Her beauty and bright personality will create exactly the right draw to pull in others and make them feel great about being there. If she's as savvy as I think she is, she can parlay this into something much bigger for herself in the future- possibly even obtaining some of my own goals, (so dear to me that they're a secret I don't share) in my stead. That little part of me that loves credit was screaming inside today even as I knew that handing off the baby is the only way to help it grow to it's potential- and the baby HAS to be more important than it's Mother.
My skill has always been to make the opportunities and if the idea itself isn't worth MORE than my desire to be seen as the person who had it, then it's not important enough to spend the time on nor worthy of the effort to achieve it. I know that is true logically but my emotions can be slow to catch up.
My own sister is such a great example of letting go of the need for individual credit. She is a brilliant writer whose words and ideas have graced national magazines and newspapers. Her "soundbites" have played on every major news network and at the highest levels of government. And not once has her name been attached to her words- someone else who is a better visual "messenger" has the benefit of her voice and skills- though she is well-paid to provide them.
I asked her today if it bothered her that she cannot have the credit for her work and she recited the Regan quote to me (which is on a plaque on her desk). And it's true. She has succeeded far beyond anything she ever expected, anything she could ever have done on her own, because she was willing to do her part behind the scenes and understood where she fit into the process. She's done a lot of good BECAUSE she was willing to forgo the credit.
In my own far less important way, it's my turn now to do that. To step back from this thing that I've invested so much time and emotion in and allow it to sink or swim- and to support someone else in the leadership role who will receive the credit when it succeeds famously! It is enough that I get to continue to be involved and nurture it from a position behind the scenes. It doesn't FEEL like enough right now but it will be!
I'm so happy she's willing to step up and play the role that needs filling but it's hard to let go and trust someone else to love it like I do. I suspect I will continue to feel a small pang of envy here and there but I know it's the right thing in the larger scheme of things and I'm perennially doomed to always see the larger scheme of things which pretty much brings us full circle to the beginning of this post!