Skill Does Not Equate To Purpose

Just because you are good at something, perhaps even better at that thing than everyone else around you, does not mean that it is your true calling.

Sometimes we find ourselves in a position of responsibility based solely on a set of skills that we posses. We may even find ourselves in this position simply because the people around us do not possess these skills. Being skilled at something, or at least more skilled than others at that thing, does not necessarily mean that we should dedicate our efforts, focus, and time on that thing.

Being good at something does not make that thing worth doing. Nor does being needed, in most cases, obligate us to do that which is needed for those who need it. Obviously, the dynamics of obligation are affected by agreements, contracts, and familial-social bonds, but, in the existential sense, neither our skills nor others’ needs require action or even a feeling of duty-boundness on our part.

What we are good at may actually be a greater reflection of what we are avoiding than it is of what we should be pursuing. Sometimes, we become highly skilled in areas of work or relationships exactly so that we can buffer ourselves from having to do work that is truly meaningful to us, as a way of drowning out the voice that cries out for light and purpose from the depths of our beings. It is this voice we owe our time and attention to.


Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.

Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Taikyoku Mind & Body and Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, as well as a founding member of the Severna Park and Baltimore Holistic Chamber of Commerce.

Artwork by Ana, except where otherwise noted.

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