Last night I read a free download of a pdf that features the words and wisdom of a number of “high achievers” discussing how they can make 2017 better than 2016. Of course I jumped at the chance for a free download and started reading right away. I mean, Tommy Robbins, Dave Ramsey? There had to be wisdom there.
There was some very intelligent advice. Reflecting and meditating on the previous year for a day or more. Enumerating past victories and well as past mistakes. Listing what you wanted to accomplish and being clear about it. Breaking the work down into manageable bites. Keeping yourself positive and playing down your failures. Then there is focus. Focus on the bites sized tasks. Outline your goals so the path is clear. Know what you want.
I tried to put myself into their shoes. I tried to see how their methods would translate to my ambitions and goals. I tried to pull myself out of my not quite so “high achievier” way of thinking. Maybe I could jumpstart my existence.
I’ve discussed this with many people whose opinion I trust. Being positive, having the right attitude to counter a life “badly” lived is the way to go. I’ve seen that message in countless inspirational writings that state it unequivocally. The right attitude brings you to your optimal existence.
Sounds like food for the Gods. If you grew up, as I did, dragging your butt and not quite achieving anything as noteworthy as Mr. Robbins or Mr. Ramsey, being a “high achiever” seemed like the answer to absolutely everything that might be missing in my life.
Let’s stop for a second. All the research and advice I’ve seen on these important topics leaves out some very important points. In the midst of the hype that has existed for the past few decades surrounding self help and self-improvement,it seems odd that the words “High achiever” have never been even vaguely defined; it seems that we’ve all taken it on faith that it means something significant.
Then there’s another reality that is significant but certainly would never be brought up by anyone promoting “high achievers” and the cottage industry that surrounds it. There are many people in the world that you could call “achievement challenged”. The point is that some of us can have the carrot of positivity dangled in front of us endlessly and still not be able to take it to next level. There’s a reason: some of us can’t look back at our achievements and build on them because we don’t feel we have any. And maybe we don’t. Many people would call that pointlessly pessimistic. The point is that some people need help to believe that a self-actualized life is possible before they navigate the difficult maze involved in reaching full potential. Those good at it need to dial down their elite platform and deal with the fact that some people need to take baby steps just to figure out what their “bliss” is.
A final point may seem obvious to some but not necessarily to “high achievers”. I will admit that this part is only my opinion but I still feel it significant and helps expose the nature of “high acheivers”: if I had tens of millions of dollars why would I feel that gaining another hundred million dollars is more important than helping people who need help improving their lives. The question is: how much is enough? And if you truly are a “high achiever” with a track record of success and wealth, shouldn’t your achievements have to eventually include pulling people up from the ground? Doesn’t needing more and more money betray weakness?
So we have a disturbing disconnect. Is the fact that “higher achievement” is defined by a cottage industry that’s dedicated to making money from the same concept a sign that its premise could be flawed? Wouldn’t it make more sense to define it by the millions by the millions of ordinary individuals it is aimed at helping?
Notice, if you will, that most of the high achievers activities involve business, cash flow, business plans, and social media. Granted, none of these things is totally unimportant nor are they completely unrelated to an improved life. But it’s long been said that not everyone can improve their lives by becoming rich or working on business development. While people like Dave Ramsey can be said to substantially help quality of life by helping people plan for retirement, most of the other high achievers promote “success” without really defining it.
If there are millions of people who are not already on the path of “high achievement”, one that requires a sort of mentality built on success based on a business model, then how many people can we “save”? I once heard Tony Robbins say that his self-help method can be used for anything, including improved relationships. Not just business. But his infomercials in the golden years of his career featured him landing in helicopters at glamorous locations and making conspicuous use of his financial muscle.
For those of us who may be dealing with depression, anxiety and other plagues, this path to high achievement might require that we get some help defining what success means personally, something that is not really emphasized in many high achiever’s teachings. For me it follows what I like to call the “New York City Beggar” rule. I am from New York and, for years, I watched more poised, physically appealing beggars who get more money and help than the beat up, unhealthy and bloody ones who really needed it. We are conditioned to pick the “sexier” of any two polarities. Money and business is sexy as is marketing. Landing in an undisclosed location in a helicopter to “do exciting business” is sexy. Helping people less focused and in need of guidance to simply live a good life is not sexy. The perception that people who aren’t driven movers and shakers display a Darwinian weakness, makes it far more likely that they can be overlooked.
In my opinion, our priorities as skewed badly. For the average person who may not be business and marketing savvy, the perceptions that these skills define success is harmful. For those that have obstacles in their way, such as depression, the perception is part of the problem. Those who can help, should. And, in my opinion, once they hit their stride, they shouldn’t charge more than most people can afford.