In Praise of Acheivement

Jim Blasingame

Success is the word typically associated with wealth, fame, position, credentials, etc. But there is another word, achieve, that could also be used, because it means essentially the same thing. Indeed, Webster is unable to define either word without using the other.

So, why don't we like achieve as much as success? Well, perhaps it's because success is a noun and achieve is a verb, and everyone knows nouns are handier than verbs.

But grammar isn't the primary reason success trumps achieve. In describing accomplishment, achieve, or its noun cousin, achievement, is me in a gray flannel suit -- success is Ricky Martin in a salsa outfit.

Alas, achieve is just not as sexy as success.

Success is synonymous with celebrating at the finish line, holding the trophy or the check. Achievement has more of a work-and-effort connotation. But accomplished people will tell you they have more memories of their work and effort than of the high fives.

The great actress, Helen Hayes, said, "Always strive for achievement; forget about success." But are there benefits to focusing more on the virtues of achievement? Gene Griessman says there are.

High achievement factors
In his audiotape, The Path to High Achievement, author Gene Griessman identifies common characteristics that contribute to high achievement, and how they are in evidence long before anyone flourishes a checkered flag. Here are five of those characteristics, followed by my thoughts.

1. The power of self-knowledge: This is knowing your strengths and weaknesses, and it may be the most important characteristic anyone seeking excellence can have.

High achievers effectively critique themselves and make adjustments.

2. Time consciousness: Like soybeans or gold, time is a commodity; it's readily available and essentially the same wherever you find it. But any billionaire will tell you time is more precious than gold.

High achievers don't waste time. Period.

3. Persistence: Did you know that stick-to-itiveness is a real word? It's a handy noun coined in 1884, meaning dogged perseverance.

High achievers personify stick-to-itiveness.

4. The power of decision: A mentor once told me, "make lots of decisions." Shakespeare wrote, "We must take the current when it serves, or lose our venture."

History has shown that an army with a poor battle plan boldly executed will often defeat an army with a great plan tentatively deployed.

Indecision is to achievement as kryptonite is to Superman.

5. Learn from mistakes: No one likes failure, but high achievers recognize the value of setbacks, and actually use them as leverage in their quest for excellence.

Failure is the abiding harness mate of success, and high-achievers know they will always be hitched to both.

Write this on a rock... No one lives their life in the winner's circle. Strive for success, but focus on achievement.

Jim Blasingame
Small Business Expert and host of The Small Business Advocate Show
©2008 All Rights Reserved

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