society is characterized by achievement orientation
“But today’s society is characterized by achievement orientation, and consequently it adores people who are successful and happy and, in particular, it adores the young.
It virtually ignores the value of all those who are otherwise, and in so doing blurs the decisive difference between being valuable in the sense of dignity and being valuable in the sense of usefulness.”
Viktor E. Frankl
“The world has changed so much.
You’re either doing really well and everyone expects you should leave to take what they perceive to be a better job – or you’re not doing well and you should get fired.
The job is a good fit. You do a quality job, be successful, you have good times and great times – the overwhelming feeling in our country is you can’t do that. That’s not possible.
You either need to be climbing or you need to get fired.”
Ben Jacobson <the basketball head coach of Northern Iowa Panthers>
(originally written in 2015)
I am also all for ‘valiant attempts’ and I certainly believe trying is significantly more important than not trying … but … at some point … you gotta have some results.
That said. The pendulum in society has swung all the way over to achievement matters. In fact we are in a society where the Value of a person seems to be either driven solely by their outcomes/results or weighted so heavily by the outcomes/results that the effort portion, how hard & how you ‘play the game’, has minuscule value.
That’s bad. Bad for society. Bad for Life lessons. Bad for business. Just bad. It is bad because that means many people will ignore the price they will pay to achieve the outcome because the outcome, in and of itself, will contain all the value.
Yeah. Think about that. Taken to an extreme that would mean the attempt has zero value and trying & failing has zero, if not negative, value.
Ok. That is bad.
“But he did not understand the price. Mortals never do.
They only see the prize, their heart’s desire, their dream … but the price of getting what you want, is getting what you once wanted.”
This thought becomes even worse , for society, because it also suggests “what are we willing to do to get what we want” is a zero sum game. What do I mean? Well. You are willing to do anything it takes to get what you want <the achievement>. The hell with rules … they are for people who don’t value achievement enough.
“The hell with guardrails and guidelines! They are for people who are scared to do what it takes.” This attitude cleverly steals away freedom of choice in that it suggests the only choice is the one that ensures achievement. This attitude strips choices of anything truly worthwhile like dignity and respect and humanity because all of those things are not criteria for what is the ultimate value – the result or outcome.
I say all this because by recognizing the enemy, by recognizing the issue or the problem, I can choose to face it. I would suggest that everything can be taken from you but one thing — the freedom to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances and to choose one’s own way in doing things. I would suggest that between any beginning and any end, or outcome; let’s just say that there is a space. And in that space is our power to choose what to do, how to do it and maybe even how to respond to whatever shit happens in that space.
I would argue within that space lies our growth and our freedom and, well, our value. And I believe more of our value is derived from that space than any outcome or number of achievements we will ever make.
I would argue that while achievement actually had three components <a> the initial step into the attempt itself, <b> the ‘space’ or whatever takes place in-between the step that begins and the final step that represents an acceptance that an outcome has occurred and <c> the result itself … it is the wretched hollow in between that defines not only the outcome but who and what we are as a person.
Now. To be clear. All three phases deserve personal credit.
Deciding to make the attempt, to take the step and try, is commendable.
Doing your best during the attempt is commendable.
And an outcome, failure or success, if you have done the best you can do … is commendable.
I am simply saying, should you follow through on all components, that it is the ‘space in between’ that ultimately creates the value.
Regardless. I would argue that we need to remind society of this and businesses for sure. And while this societal attitude may be doing is darndest to blur the decisive difference between being valuable in the sense of dignity and being valuable in the sense of usefulness I tend to believe the rising younger generation of workers, doers and thinkers are sensing the value in “the space”.
I tend to believe that the rising younger generation not only senses, but seeks; you can maintain dignity and achieve usefulness in terms of outcomes. We older folk shouldn’t suffocate this attitude and rather breathe Life into that belief <and empower it so that they can maybe create a generation of business better than the one we created>.
Results do matter. Achieving an outcome is important. And ‘winning’ is always preferable to ‘losing.’ But none of these things should ever come at the expense of dignity, respect and honor.
Achieving with dignity.
Winning with respect.
An honorable outcome.
That should be the definition of an outcome generation … not just ‘achieve, win, outcome above all.’
<insert a sigh here>
I have been trying to avoid using Trump as an example of shit that I write about, but on this topic it is difficult to not do so.
Trump embodies value solely found in outcome <or win>.
Trump embodies the wretchedness of ‘soulless competition.’
Trump embodies winning is all that matters <at the expense of everything else>.
I say that because if society is challenged in its current ‘achievement is all that matters’ focus we will now have as our main role model the epitome of ‘achievement is all that matters.’ For anyone who believes that how you win matters, like I, this is going to be a day in/day out battle for the soul of society.
Everyone deserves to win.
Everyone should have the opportunity to win.
Everyone should experience ‘win.’
But. Everyone needs to remember that the value of ‘the win’ is not in the win itself but rather in the space that exists between that first step and the actual outcome.
In the end.
The pendulum in society has certainly swing way over to achievement orientation and not with any real benefit (that I can discern) with regard to increased, or even enhanced, outcomes & results. In fact. It seems like in our enthusiasm for results we have stripped the meaning out of any results we have actually achieved. To me, that seems like hollow achievement which then translates into a hollowing of society on a grander scale. Yes. This is leading to a grander narrative around Purpose & meaningfulness but it would behoove us to have a tough discussion over achievements & how we have an unhealthy fixation on achievements in society.