Why Some Achieve and Some Don’t

A reader asks: Why are some people achievers while others are not?

It all depends on what you value, and how well you internalize what you value.

At root of it all is a value of your life. If you love not only your own life, but life as such, then you’re motivated to achieve something of importance, in some context.

Achievement requires ability. But ability presupposes a willingness to accomplish something. There used to be talk, especially in America, of a ‘can do’ attitude. Such a phrase is not a trite clich It refers, on the most fundamental level, to an attitude that ‘My mind is competent. Human reason matters. I can and I will accomplish something in this area.’

Without such an attitude, none of the inventions or comforts we take for granted would ever have appeared on the human scene. Science, innovation, technology, the very computer I’m writing on right now, and the technology you’re utilizing to receive my input; the electricity lighting your room and keeping your computer on, to say nothing of the satellite connection or cable wiring, on and on ‘ ‘Can do’ attitudes are quite literally the ground upon which we walk.

Such an attitude does not only apply to the unusual achievements affecting literally everyone. It also applies to your own personal ability to function and flourish in your own daily life, as well as over the entire course of your life. If you don’t feel that you can do, then you most definitely won’t do.

The extent to which someone internalizes the attitude that ‘My mind can and should produce’ is the extent to which one—within the range of one’s capacity—will achieve. And it’s for yourself, for your own sake. Contrary to what our philosopher-priests and philospher-kings tell us, achievement is for one’s own personal fulfillment on earth, not for God, country, society or the state.

I know someone who used to own a restaurant. He had a mentally disabled young woman working for him, along with non-disabled people. He used to comment that the mentally disabled woman was a better employee than most of the normally functioning adults. Many—not all, but most—of the normally functioning adults expressed resentment about their jobs, and tended to be slow and plodding. They drank themselves into unconsciousness most nights, and had casual sex with each other, facing awkward moments at work the next day. The mentally disabled woman was sincere, punctual, and had a work ethic you could absolutely count on. She even cried when the restaurant closed and it was time for her to move on to a new job.

Ironically, the mentally disabled woman accomplished more, in this particular context, than did most of her coworkers who didn’t have the inferior cognitive capacities. She did more with her limited capacity, with respect to the ‘can do’ attitude, than did most of the people who lacked such an attitude.

To me, this example shows how most people squander their minds, their time and their lives without a real sense of purpose. It’s the unusual person who achieves, but achievement is actually open to anyone willing to think and take life at least somewhat seriously.

Whether it’s a routine restaurant job or a more ambitious enterprise, the principle is always the same: It’s what you do with what you have that counts.

The people who achieve the most are the ones who possess and cultivate this attitude. Read about anyone who accomplished something noteworthy. You’ll usually find that when starting out, they approached some menial or comparatively unimportant job with the same ferocious and ambitious attitude with which they later tackled the activity for which they became well-known.

It’s all attitude.


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