Closing my eyes for a moment, I wonder what is motivating my need for her to improve. I see a girl (my younger self) close to my daughter's age feeling insecure and unloved because she is not as good as the rest of her team. She is confusing her skills with her sense of self-worth. In contrast, my daughter is engaged with her team. She is not refining her skills because she is inherently defective, but because she enjoys being part of something larger than a small sense of self.
At a wellbeing dinner with colleagues, we are discussing physician burnout. Some physicians feel like their identity is hitched to productivity - the number of patients we see and the revenue we bring in for the clinic. If we haven't met statistical goals, we are prone to a failure complex. The emphasis on productivity clouds our ability to appreciate the difference we make in patients’ lives each day, the intelligent and compassionate colleagues who practice with us, and maybe even trust in our own goodness.
What is the common denominator to basic goodness? For me, this type of inquiry always leads to the human heart and its inherent capacity to love.
I pause to sense what is happening at my heart center. It's filled with awe and respect for the friendships I have forged with these physicians, compassion for a friend who is suffering from a case of mistaken identity, joy for a colleague who is about to welcome the addition of a baby girl to his family, and equanimity for all I can and cannot control.
Like a serene scene in nature or an inspiring song, we can positively influence one another. We are especially drawn to those beings who can look beyond outer appearances and accomplishments to find basic goodness in everyone. Our hearts are pure if we can move past prior conditioning and critical voices that tell us otherwise.
Surround yourself with people, places, and practices that remind you of your own basic goodness. It's a wonderful way to polish your diamond heart till it gleams. Your radiance can then remind others of the jewel they have inside.
The self-improvement project is exhausting, never ending. There is nothing wrong with a desire to improve, as long as you understand your motivation for doing so. Your True Nature is one of loving presence and acceptance, a luminous sun that is always shining. Sometimes it's blocked by anger, fear, hurt, grief, or jealousy. When this happens, may someone or something be a pleasant surprise to remind you of your own basic goodness.