I love this word…willingness.  Had the best afternoon with a lovely human I get to call friend… a true friend.  This person is one with whom time goes by so quickly, I get to be silly, talk about nothing and then a lot of deep something’s….we just laugh (at ourselves mostly) and it is such a safe place.  I am quite blessed.  But I digress – it is a conversation yesterday, which of course took place over food –this time at the Pie Shop  – H Street NE, DC  (most of my best work is done around food and coffee) ha-ha. –  the word “willingness” came up.  It intrigued me as it is not a word I use very much.  My friend showed me a daily reflection book that said this:

“The essence of all growth is a willingness to change for the better and then an unremitting willingness to shoulder whatever responsibility this entails. “ 

That alone was enough for me to have a mini “a-ha” moment.  The word itself opens so many thoughts (more on that later) but then my friend read this:

“Sometimes when I’ve become willing to do what I should have been doing all along, I want praise and recognition.  I don’t realize that the more I’m willing to act differently, the more exciting my life becomes.  The more I am willing to help others, the more rewards I receive.  That’s what practicing these principles mean to me.  Fun and benefits for me are in the willingness to do the actions, not get immediate results.  Being a little kinder, a little slower to anger, a little more loving makes my life better – day-by-day. “

I looked up a definition of willingness and found “The quality or state of being prepared to do something; readiness.”  But the best I found was this – “cheerful compliance.”

Willingness conjures up feelings of possibility, challenge, opportunities, and excitement.  I am willing to take this on; or he is willing to move that forward.  It just seems such an affirming word.  Don’t you feel better with someone being willing to spend time with you or willing to be of assistance or willing to take on something versus an obligation, a requirement or a duty?

If I am honest, (and since that is the whole point of this blog, time to step up) I saw myself very clearly in the second paragraph above.  While I am truly willing to do things for others– I get great joy over seeing others happy – how much of my own motivation, conscious or not, was for that potential praise of recognition?  Made me examine a lot of myself.  No question, general appreciation is nice; and that doesn’t mean anything in the public realm for me.  It often for me is the smile on someone’s face, or the satisfaction in getting something from thought to execution or the moving forward of a goal post.  But as I think through it and hold that mirror up close, the insecure, want to be liked little girl inside me will admit here that that pat of the back may be part of a motivation.  It does not change the genuine intent of my willingness, but it now makes me pause for just a minute and know if I do anything for anyone, my willingness must be that and that alone and when the need or expectation for anything  more is present, a decision must be made to move forward or not with honesty and integrity.

Happily, I do get great benefits in my willingness to work hard and have little wins along the way in a project or activity.  By little wins I mean, someone I want to work with says yes, or someone I am negotiating with provides the deal, meets the deadline or I complete the work I need; or the end result is positive or well received.   Those are my personal benchmarks.

So how much is outside praise or recognition influencing your decisions and willingness?  This review brought up a few very specific situations for me where I ended up feeling dejected and unappreciated when that recognition was withheld and when it felt purposeful and hurtful.  What does that say about me?   Did I do it for the right reasons or was my willingness in that case predicated on something else? More on that another time.

I guess for now, as we continue our conversation, I ask this – what does willingness mean to you?  Does our willingness include, not only doing for others, doing the job, doing what is needed in life; but the willingness to change internally for the better – requiring an open mind and desire for change?   If the answer is yes, are we willing to shoulder whatever responsibility comes after?

Change is like truth.  Once it happens, once it’s known, it cannot be undone or unknown.  What do we do next?  Do we face it, fake it, or forget it?

Our willingness may make others uncomfortable (including ourselves).  Are you ready?  Are you in cheerful compliance?  Are you WILLING?

Take care of you and I wish you today, as in all days, a good day.