A scrawny old man wanted to get a job at a nearby lumberjack camp, so he approached the boss, who politely tried to talk him out of the idea.
“Give me a few minutes of your time, and I’ll show you what I can do,” suggested the man.
When the two arrived at a grove of trees needing to be cleared, the persistent old man picked up an ax and proceeded to chop down a huge tree in record time.
“That’s incredible,” the boss said. “Where did you learn to fell trees like that?”
“Well,” said the old man, “you’ve heard of the Sahara Forest?”
Hesitantly the boss replied, “Don’t you mean the Sahara Desert?”
The old man smiled and said, “Sure, that’s what it’s called now.”
“Achievers are producers,” writes Glenn Van Ekeren. “They understand the world will not recognize them for what they could have done, should have done or would have done."
Achievement is one of the desires that drives us. Why do you think we have various awards like Grammys, Emmys, Oscars and Nobel and Pulitzer Prizes, not to mention numerous halls of fame?
“The number of new products available and the new inventions which make life easier from generation to generation all testify to mankind’s thirst for more achievement,” wrote authors Leonard and Thelma Spinrad. “No matter what kind of society or political system a country may have, it seeks to provide recognition for what it regards as achievement.”
Outstanding efforts, great courage, heroic deeds, superior commitment and innovative accomplishments all deserve acknowledgement. But recognition shouldn’t be the primary motivation for achievement.
I can tell you from personal experience that achieving a goal or completing a major business or civic project is a reward in itself. Yes, my ego appreciates the kudos, but it doesn’t make the achievement any sweeter. I just want to do the best and most complete job I can do.
Finding the motivation to achieve is sometimes a challenge. You know what you can achieve; it’s the getting started part that inhibits results. When you feel stuck, you can pull yourself up with an attitude adjustment. The Success magazine website offers some ideas on how to make the change.
-- Rely on yourself first. You’ll have to ask others for advice, assistance and support, but remember that in the end, your success is your responsibility alone.
-- Have a plan. Don’t go off in all directions at once. Work out a solid, detailed strategy for getting from your starting point to the result you want.
-- Focus on commitment. Are you really committed to your goal? If not, you won’t be motivated to pursue it.
-- Concentrate on gaining knowledge. Don’t expect instant results. Instead, work on accumulating the knowledge you need to get to where you want to go.
-- Have some fun. Don’t make the work all drudgery. Set a goal you’ll enjoy working toward, and look for opportunities to have fun along the way.
-- Spark your imagination. Be open to anything, no matter how wild it seems at first. Generate ideas through brainstorming with others, exploring the world around you, and seeking opportunities to learn new things.
-- Challenge yourself. Don’t wait for the perfect moment to take action. Take chances, get out of your comfort zone and be realistic about your mistakes and the causes of your failures.
We all have the potential to be great achievers. It may not come with a trophy or a job title, but achievement is measured on many fronts. Don’t just dream about achieving something -- stay awake and do it!
Gretchen Alexander refused to allow her blindness to limit her life experiences. She mastered archery, golf, softball, sailing and waterskiing, as well as a number of other activities her sighted friends had yet to learn.
Speaking to a group of high school students about her achievements, one student asked if there was anything she wouldn’t try. “I’ve decided not to skydive,” she answered. “It would scare the heck out of my dog.”
Mackay’s Moral: Getting something done is an accomplishment; getting something done right is an achievement.