We all want to play a role in things. How we do so, and what we see our roles as being may vary, but regardless, we all need to feel “involved” in order to do our best work.
There is always an inherent desire to be connected. Being alone leaves us to try and interpret the world with no other lens than our own, and certainly speaking from experience, that is a dangerous place to be (for me, anyway). While I appreciate time to be on my own, I find I need to be regularly connected with others to truly learn as deeply, and see things as clearly, as possible.
Throughout my experiences so far, I’ve learned two important lessons about “being a part” of something.
First, being a part is always about interpretation. We may think that others may not want to be a part, or that we understand the role that they want to play. But, as I’ve discovered, it is always better to inquire about roles that people want to engage in, then to make an assumption about someone’s part, or what it could be. The only person’s involvement who we can really project is our own, and as such, it always makes sense to “check-in” with others, prior to assigning a role, or not.
Second, being a part of something also involves being a non-participant in other things. Since our time, and our energy, is always finite, we have to choose carefully to determine what we want to get involved in, and what we don’t. This has always been a difficult task for me as I find it incredibly difficult to say “no.” Happily, over the last few years, I’ve realized that my worth is much higher when I devote myself to a number of projects fully, rather than semi-devoting myself to a larger number of projects. I’ve come to the realization that my work will be more highly appreciated when I’m able to give it my best; no one needs to see me as a part of everything (and likely that was always the case, it just took me time to convince myself).
So what does that mean for being a part of things? Internally, I often say to myself “I want to be part of this.” And now, with past experiences to help me, I’ve learned to take a moment, after I shout that to myself, and whisper-ask, “And what will I need to give up to take part?” If the answer is nothing, than I’m ready to go. But, if there is a clear challenge to my time, or if I’m not sure, I’m just as comfortable saying “No thanks” than overextending myself and being less than I can truly be. In addition, it is always easier to ask how people want to be involved than to believe they see their role in a certain way.