“The beginning of worthwhile living is the confrontation with ourselves.” (Henry Emerson Fosdick)
You could think of life as a journey, a flight through the wild world “out there” and up the ladder of success. Making a difference or leading a life of purpose means achieving something external — some great humanitarian effort, or creating a successful business, or doing something philanthropic for the world “out there”.
Truly great people use this metaphor of a journey, too, but they don’t focus on “out there” as much as they focus on “in here” — they know the real drama involves their internal lives.
Mature people believe in the power of self-confrontation. They assume that everyone (including themselves) is a mixed bag, full of goodness and badness, amazingly endowed and deeply flawed. They know that we all have talents and weaknesses, and, if we fail to struggle against the weaknesses within, we may ruin some vital piece of ourselves. We won’t do as much good as we want because we won’t be as good as we can.
Before you climb that ladder and do good “out there”, make sure you know what it means to be good “in here”.