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Self-Transcendence

Connecting to the Spark that Enables Us to Rise Above the Fray

San Francisco Alley Art. Photo source: Renee Moorefield.

I’ve spent most of my life dedicated to the cultivation of better leadership for thriving organizations and a just and sustainable world. It is such a gift when we, as leaders, choose to step into a more generative, enlivened, and effective versions of ourselves, and operate in ways that elevate people and the planet.

This is an act of self-transcendence, an innate capacity at our disposal and one which I believe needs more attention and activation in our world. Self-transcendence calls us to rise above the trappings and demands of our situations (and our beliefs) as a way to tap into new levels of wellbeing and peace of mind. Self-transcendence invites us to live and lead with a deep sense of meaning—perhaps by investing our power into a vision or purpose that inspires us—with the acknowledgement that everything is connected. The more we realize this and reach out beyond ourselves, the more we are apt to use our life force to amplify the common good.

In light of the conflicted, divisive energies of our times, what’s the good news? We are hard-wired for self-transcendence. People from all walks of life have attempted to remind us of this fact. Please savor their quotes and add yours to this list; when we share our wisdom, we can be a source of uplift for one another. 

Psychologist William James:Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact.”

Life Coach Oli Anderson: “It is essential to our health and happiness that we dedicate ourselves to some kind of mission or purpose that transcends the mundane hustle and bustle of daily living.”

Author Gina Greenlee: “What would happen if you gave yourself permission to do something you’ve never done before? There’s only one way to find out.”

Spiritual Leader Sri Chinmoy: “Self-transcendence gives us joy in boundless measure. When we transcend ourselves, we do not compete with others. We do not compete with the rest of the world, but at every moment we compete with ourselves. We compete only with our previous achievements. And each time we surpass our previous achievements, we get joy.”

Author and Philosopher Ruth Nanda Anshen: “For the uniqueness of man lies in his capacity for self-transcendence.”

Neurologist, Psychiatrist, and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl: “Only to the extent that someone is living out this self-transcendence of human existence, is he truly human or does he become his true self. He becomes so, not by concerning himself with his self-actualization, but by forgetting himself and giving himself, overlooking himself and focusing outward.”

Professor and Researcher Paul Wong, PhD: “…the way to become your best self is, paradoxically, to become more selfless.”

Spiritual Leader Gautama Buddha: “Know well what leads you forward and what holds you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom.”

Futurist Jean Houston: “We all have the extraordinary coded within us, waiting to be released.”

Human Potential Educator George Leonard: “There is a human striving for self-transcendence. It’s part of what makes us human. With all of our flaws we want to go a little bit further than we’ve gone before and maybe even further than anyone else has gone before.”

Writer Kilroy J. Oldster: “Life is like a long walk, an extended mediation, where a person discovers the difference between living with attention and awareness and simply passing through the world in a zombie state, ignorant of what is beautiful, true, and virtuous.”

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