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How to find meaning by sharing

Jan 25, 2023 | Insights

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When you have achieved something, share your experiences for greater meaning and to feel part of something greater than just you.
The Great North Run is the world’s largest half-marathon, with over fifty thousand runners, from elite Olympic athletes to first-timers. It is a challenge, and completing the run is definitely something to write home about, as is the amount of money raised for charity.

Completing the run is a significant personal achievement. However, participating in something so big is also awe-inspiring. There is something almost spiritual about being part of a huge crowd waiting on the motorway for the race to begin, even though you don’t know most of the runners.

However, most years, I would run with a small group of friends, joining them for breakfast in Macdonalds at South Shields Station before taking the Metro to Newcastle and walking together through the crowds to the start.

Be part of something bigger than you.

And afterwards, we would meet up for a drink and a chat in our local pub back home, proudly wearing our tee-shirts and medals, part of the goodie bag we get at the end of our 13-mile run.

In telling our stories of how we felt, the pain and the joys, we felt part of something much bigger than ourselves. It was the sharing that gave the event so much meaning.

This aspect of the event was brought home to me one year when circumstances dictated that I ran solo – no group travel or breakfast in South Shields, no one to talk about the race afterwards. And it was a different story. The race was still a significant achievement, but less so without being able to share the experience with other runners.

No meaning without sharing

As a friend told me yesterday, “There is no meaning without sharing”. He went on to talk about those occasions when you see a beautiful and awe-inspiring view or painting. It takes your breath away, but it isn’t very meaningful unless you share it, preferably with others there at the time. I am not sure I entirely agree, but my contrasting experiences at the Great North Run add weight to the argument.

What does this mean for people like you and me who seek meaning by making a difference? Well, when you have achieved something, make a point of sharing your experience. Tell people, write about it, and post it on social media or your website. In particular, remember to share with your connections, particularly those who may be involved in your work.

But here’s the thing. Don’t start your conversation or writing with the word “I”, which is the route to self-aggrandisement, floodlighting and ego-boosting. Instead, talk about the circumstances and the impact your actions have had on others. Centre the conversation on “you”, not “I”.

Attributions and references

Photo by Al Elmes on Unsplash

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