The home of Uncommon Sense: Providing Clarity, Promoting Intelligence

Be a Contributor

We have a moral obligation to develop ourselves. That’s what this entire column, found in each issue of Uncommon Sense, is all about – developing ourselves in myriad ways, be it physically, intellectually, financially, spiritually, socially, or in other ways.

One of the reasons it is a moral imperative to develop ourselves is because by doing so, we are in a better position to contribute to the well-being of others. Here are some illustrations.

  • In the physical realm, having our bodies fully functioning not only results in a higher quality of life for ourselves, due to fewer injuries, illnesses, and the ability to do more things we enjoy, but we are also in a position to serve others. Being physically strong means we can assist others when they need help moving a table from inside their home to outside, or we can play soccer with our grandson without too much difficulty, or we can hold a 2 x 4 in place without too much stress while someone else hammers it into place. Imagine the lack of usefulness to others by claiming we cannot help them move the table, or play soccer, or hold the 2 x 4 in place, because we are just too frail and weak to do so. Contributing to the needs of others in the physical realm is often very much appreciated by others.
  • In the intellectual realm we develop our mental capacity through reading and study and listening. Although there will always be vast amounts of knowledge we will never master, by applying ourselves we can acquire a reasonable amount of insight that can be of great value to our fellow man. I am a successful and busy consultant because I know things that individuals and organizations value, so they hire me to apply my craft. In the realm of politics and the realm of theology, as well as history, I happen to know enough so that individuals routinely seek me out for my input on a challenging question they are wrestling with. I am in a position to help them sort out some things. I contribute to their discoveries because I’ve paid a price to enable me to do so.
  • Developing ourselves financially places us in the enviable position to not only be financially secure, but it also positions us to bless the lives of others with our means. I do this through donations, donating a portion of every dollar I earn to my Church so that I can assist with their operational needs. I’ve also been fortunate to use my means to bless the lives of others in need with meals, or other financial assistance from time to time. Money opens doors and enables us to face more options than we would otherwise have. Money is a great source of contributing to others.
  • When speaking of the spiritual dimension, a little more explanation is in order because the word can mean so many things to so many people. So here is my explanation of the spiritual: it’s about things of transcendence. For most people, this involves the deepest questions of life, including matters involving the notion of a Divine Creator. It can involve questions of redemption and repentance. It can involve matters of wisdom and perspective. It can involve questions of purpose and meaning. But lest you think it only involves traditional, organized religion, or going to a Christian church, or only reading the Bible, etc., I would hasten to point out that while it certainly can include such things, it does not necessarily involve such things. An atheist can explore and experience the transcendent through various means, such as marveling at the stars in the black sky when far from city lights, or taking in the beauties of nature in a national park, or in a charming meadow, or by observing a stream that leads into a river, or by seeing a distant valley from a mountain top. The bottom line is that when we have developed what I call a mature spiritual posture, we possess greater wisdom and deeper perspective on a whole host of “Big Picture” issues, which in turn, enables us to provide guidance and insight to others. We use our wisdom to contribute wisdom to others.
  • The social realm also is important. We are not hermits. Even those who crave their downtime, their “alone time,” benefit from social interaction. Whether we are participating in an engaging conversation, or capitalizing on humorous moments where people can authentically laugh, or just amusing ourselves doing things we find fun and enjoyable, we can contribute mightily to turning the dreariness of life with all its hardships and disappointments into moments of joy and levity. When we contribute our social gifts to others, we lift them up with contentment instead of worry or sorrow. The social dimension of our life is very important because it cuts through the mundane and punctuates the joyful elements of an otherwise pedestrian grind.

Be a contributor. Develop yourself so that you have the capacity to contribute to others. Doing so will help you perceive of your own value, and the fact that you matter – to yourself, to others, and to this world. Ask yourself, Where can I contribute? But also ask yourself, Where can I almost contribute, but not quite yet? The answer to that second question will tell you where you need to put in time to develop yourself to that “almost there” becomes “absolutely there.”

Ara Norwood is a multi-faceted and results-oriented professional. Spanning a multiplicity of disciplines including leadership, management, innovation, strategy, service, sales, business ethics, and entrepreneurship. Ara is also a historian, having special expertise on the era of the founding of our republic.
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