…do not depend on the hope of results.
…you may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless
and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect.
As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the
results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself.
As a person who focuses on results and whose job is to create results for others, these words are surprisingly liberating. I spend a lot of time thinking through the various physical issues my students present and am very good at designing movements that address those issues. But I struggle with my inability to help very many people. I don’t create many ripples in the pond of life.
This quote reminds me that my skills are for a select few who are willing to make the effort to understand and change unhealthy habits to get out of pain. So the impact I create can be huge in one person’s life but it probably won’t affect crowds of people. In addition to remembering that my work isn’t for everyone, this quote helps me to focus on the “why” and not the “what.” I keep offering my skills because these are gifts I have that can be used to make the world a better place. I will never know how many people I’ve helped or how much I may have helped—or not. If I can be unattached to the results but still do my best work, I don’t take disinterest or slower progress as a personal defeat. I can see it as a challenge to continue to do better, to communicate more clearly, to be patient with myself and others.
And, in the end, my worth as a human is not based on a number; my “work” in the world is not my job but how I live in the world. Am I generous? Am I a person of integrity? Do I take responsibility for my actions and can I apologize when I’m wrong? Do I walk lightly on the earth and strive to see the light in all? These are the true gifts I need to offer.