The Dynamics of Achievement
In Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs he theorizes the pattern that human motivation moves through. At the bottom of his pyramid are the essential, physiological needs like breathing, food and water, shelter and clothing. While at the top, and more difficult to attain is Self-Actualization, which refers to both a person's full potential is as well as the process of achieving that. I've previously written about how past experiences affect our identities and perceptions, molding us into the people we become. I covered some major events in my life that may have triggered my passion to work hard toward my Self-Actualization. Lately, I've been thinking a lot about success and my journey of self-actualization, leading me to developing my current theories on what I call the Dynamics of Achievement. As an observer of my father's profession as an architect, I've learned what it takes to successfully build something big - careful planning, trustworthy collaboration and project management. In using architecture and construction as an analogy, I believe success is a structure to be built, rather than the popular notion of success as a destination to be reached.
Identifying and becoming the best version of yourself is in fact possible, and the first dynamic of (high) achievement is when in time someone comes to terms with this reality. As young people, it's paramount to consider who we want to become, yet we don't do this enough while we still have all our time ahead of us. Astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, a great inspiration to me personally, has said about his younger self, "I assembled my role model a la carte.. stapling together, Frankenstein-style, this role model who was pieces of people whose talents and personalities I respected". I believe we could all benefit by being diligent and open-minded in our exploration and analyzation of inspiration; sooner, better than later.
No matter when someone discovers their potential, the second dynamic of achievement is a thorough inventory of who they are, where they're coming, and what they've managed to achieve so far. This takes humble self-evaluation and meta-cognitive (thinking about thinking). When I myself took the first step of discovering who I wanted to be, I next had to reflect on who I was. In comparison to the great man I wanted to be, my current achievements honestly made me feel like a piece of shit. This new perspective, as daunting as it was, allowed me to respect how big of a goal I have, how much work I would need to do, and that it could be my life's journey. Which leads to the final dynamic of achievement.
Rate of Achievement is the most critical dynamic of high achievement. Even the latest bloomer with the highest goals can optimize their rate of achievement to unlock their potential. Over time, one's average rate of achievement determines how much of her dreams come true or not. In theory, if we were all immortal, then even with a small but positive rate of achievement, we could relax, because self-actualization would be all but guaranteed. Unfortunately that's not the world we live in, but there's hope, because with luck, persistence, humility, and technology we have the tools to increase our rate of achievement.
Work ethic and Persistence
My favorite definition of Luck is, 'When preparation meets opportunity,' and I've seen my fair share of it. Many successful people attribute luck to their success and it's important to acknowledge that. With that in mind, I find that by just 'showing-up' more often than the next guy or girl, I'm more likely to run into opportunities. Persistence increases your chances of good luck. Paul Graham of Y Combinator wrote about this in his theory of compounding nature of Knowledge and Interest: "The more you know, the more you learn; the more you learn, the more you can do; the more you can do, the more the opportunity."
In a previous post, I mentioned how I strive to live outside of my comfort zone and how it primes me to overcome any challenge I face. Katherine Krug, a personal development entrepreneur I recently connected with, shared her philosophy on her comfort zone: "I've always believed my own boundaries are meant to be pushed. If I sense I fear something, I have to do it. If I don’t know how to do something, I have to learn it."
The role of technology
Human lifespans are incredibly short. We all have lists of things we'd like to do, places to visit, and people we'd like to meet, but most of us don't even come close to achieving them in their lifetimes. I find this tragic. Interestingly, there are promising efforts to increase the human lifespan using latest advances in biomedical technologies; someday our bucket lists might benefit form this. However, another way to achieve more in our lifetimes is to increase our rate of achievement by working smarter, not harder.
Technology has always had a major role in all types of achievement, increases our capabilities and rate of achievement by orders of magnitudes. To extend the analogy of architecture and construction, tools such as cranes, tractors, and steel have allowed us to imagine taller and more intricate structures. Similarly, tools like, automobiles, computers, smartphones, and the internet have allowed human beings to strive for self-actualization and form new definitions for what that looks like. In contrast, when the vast majority of the population had the struggle of survival we couldn't dream so big, especially when our physical limitations disconnected our interactions with the greater world.
These tools allow us to focus on high-level goals required to reach our full potential, as opposed to focusing our energy and attention on the low-level tasks needed to accomplish those goals. Through history, the wealthy and powerful have always had the ability to focus on high-level goals by delegating low-level tasks to servant labor or any expensive technology that existed. These days, consumer-grade technologies gives people superpowers and democratizes the ability to self-actualize. Tech evolves us and even further, as our superpowers evolve - for example: mainframes to desktop to smartphone - what it means to be human evolves as well. When this expansion in our dreams and goals accumulates as a population, we evolve as an entire species.
What would the world be like if everyone was able to be the best version of themselves they could be? I wake up everyday with the appreciation that chance has led me to work in the technology industry, an industry that really does define and redefine what it means to be human. It's my ambition to create products and services that afford people the capability to achieve more of our goals in our limited life spans. It's my passion to tell stories that make self-actualization go viral world-wide. Reach out to me if our goals are aligned, let's change the world together!