Our modern culture is obsessed with accomplishment. It has become almost the sole determinate of our value to society and our sense of self-worth. It begins in our schools and even in the modeling of parents to young children. Our entire lives are spent looking around and comparing our accomplishments with others and feeling either superior or inferior to someone else in terms of accomplishment. This is the common curse of having a personality (ego) that is insecure by nature and looks to bolster its sense of security through accomplishment.
I invite you to examine your own obsession with accomplishment. I’m not suggesting that you quit your job, drop out of your schooling or become a couch potato. However, I am inviting you to switch your mindset from accomplishment orientation to contribution orientation. This is ultimately the cure to accomplishment obsession and the key to a life of greater meaning both in the present moment and over time.
Accomplishment Mindset vs. Contribution Mindset
Accomplishment is what makes the personality feel valued. Contribution is what the soul naturally does when allowed to by relaxing the personality (ego).[bctt tweet=”Accomplishment is attached to outcome. Contribution is a reward in and of itself regardless of outcome.” via=”no”]
When I focus on my accomplishments I can easily fall into pride when I judge myself to have accomplished more than someone else or (more often) shame and stress as I judge myself less accomplished than someone else.
When I focus on how to contribute something to others each day, I live with more enjoyment and peace. A life focused on daily contribution will result in a life of meaningful accomplishments, while a life focused on personal accomplishments will be full of anxiety, disappointment, regrets and ultimately meaninglessness.
Gardening: The Best Analogy To A Contribution Mindset
To understand the distinction between accomplishment and contribution it is helpful to reflect on gardening. Notice what your proper role is as a gardener in growing a plant. It is a partnership between you and Life. There is only so much you can do and most of it is done by Life well beyond your ability to comprehend.[bctt tweet=”If you try to do too much, too soon, you destroy the plant you are trying to grow.”] [bctt tweet=”The proper balance for creation is 1% you and 99% Life; yet without your 1% only weeds grow.”]
There is a story of the farmer and the preacher that is a great illustration of this principle. The preacher comes to visit the farmer and looks over his acres of neatly groomed plants bearing fruit. He says to the farmer “Wow, just look at what God has done here, isn’t it amazing!” The farmer replies “It is, but you should have seen this land when God had it all to himself!”
This response wasn’t meant to minimize or disregard the role of God or the intelligence of Life in growing plants, but rather to emphasize the vital importance of the partnership of both God/Life and your efforts. The farmer contributed his 1% to the process, and God/Nature did the other 99%. Our contribution is necessary and it is what we’re here on earth to do.
The danger to our mental well being is when we forget that our job is to contribute the best we can in every situation we find ourselves in and instead focus only on accomplishment or outcome- much of which is well beyond our control or even our business.
If something is stressing you out, there’s a good chance it’s because you’ve lost sight of your proper role as a farmer and you’re trying to take action beyond your 1% and not allowing Life to work its miracles.
Questions to Ponder:
– What is causing you anxiety right now?
– What is it you can contribute to the situation?
– Where might you need to relax and allow Life to take care of it’s job and grow what you’ve planted and continue to nourish?