Wednesday, December 05, 2012

The Empty Feeling of Achievement

There is nothing worse than achievement that has no impact.

This is a side of achievement I don't know I have given a great deal of thought to.  But not all achievement is created equal.  Some achievement results in, well, results.  Something happens as a result of something that has been completed. 

But there's the other side of achievement, the long low exhausted breath of having done something only to realize that the breath is being taken in singleness and silence.  The achievement was completed, but it resulted in nothing.

Nothing?  Surely you just, you may be thinking.  All achievement has some outcome, even it is merely the outcome of the individual having completed that which they had started.  Even that can be considered an outcome of something.

I suppose that is true enough - "In all toil there is profit, but mere talk comes only to want" as the writer of Proverbs says (14:23).  Even in the least impactful of achievements there is some element of results, even if it is merely the impact that the thing was possible to get done and did get done as an example to others.

I have hard experience with the achievement that leads to nowhere and nothing.  There is nothing less motivating than coming to the final completion of a project when the last slide is presented, the last page turned, and the last comment made - only to find that nothing happens.  The overwhelming sense of failure cannot be denied, if not accompanied by a keen sense of disappointment.  Achievement is meant to impact, not to be ignored.

What do I do with this sense of, if not failure, then lack of success?  I'm not sure.  There are only two viable options, it seems.  The first is simply to select better achievements - by better, I mean begin selecting those achievements which have the potential to actually make a difference or achievements which deal with something of importance.  Spend time doing impactful things and you will make an impact.

The other option is to begin to evaluate what I expect or intend to get out of every achievement.  I will never be able to completely shed achievement without impact - our lives are often full of things we need to do simply to do them.  But even in doing these things we can find at least one thing that will improve ourselves if not achieve the point of the exercise.  The trick is to find it.

But it matters.  And we have to do it.  Because I can only imagine that one of the great failures in life one can feel is looking back at a life of achievement and realizing that in the end, nothing of impact was actually accomplished.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are welcome (and necessary, for good conversation). If you could take the time to be kind and not practice profanity, it would be appreciated. Thanks for posting!