Authenticity is a tricky subject. Tact and diplomacy are important to me. There is a sense of security when there is distance from public opinion, with age or actual distance, among other things: In the city, fashion and self-expression are more important. With success, priorities and lifestyle change for most people: You want to reward and encourage ambition if it pays off, and so you will naturally segue into a life of rewards — often pointless or expensive — for effort. You will want to ensure your children have similar opportunity and joys like all the adults who live around you will do for their children.
These rewards are not pointless to other people because they haven’t had them yet for any length of time or because they feel good momentarily. It’s not pointless in advertisement for obvious reasons. So you can convince yourself that it is not pointless for a while.
It is easy for us to criticize politicians. Politicians live fast-paced lives, and eventually, many of them sacrifice their own morals or values for their ambition or even just for security – a retirement for themselves and a college fund for their children. There is a common theme in humans, of short-term thinking and selfishness. Politicians are very human; they’re in charge of other humans and more money, so the shortcomings are more pronounced.
Ambition is always seen as a good thing in the US. Especially in Asian cultures, memorization and accomplishments are the measure of a man. The result is more important than the journey, but the result never comes. Intentions matter more than the result, but the intentions rarely follow through. Results don’t feed the soul; so there is an emptiness to it all.
From a young age, I pushed myself as hard as I could, making strategic sacrifices, and often ignoring my own feelings in exchange for results. This produced a very formulaic life. Relationships, on the other hand, rely on emotion, and so are rarely predictable.
Online, there are many MLM plans, and there are many people within them that are motivational and positive. The world needs more positivity surely, but positivity rarely goes with respect. Somehow it never feels real to some of us. Feelers give a nod to thinkers, but thinkers do not like unpredictability and are skeptical of emotion. The gist of motivational speaking is to press harder, to take more risks.
I have to ask for the root of all of the chasing: Where does inadequacy come from? We can achieve many things, but is there ever too much success or security? Why not? Why do we prioritize success and security so highly, over love and enjoyment?
No End in Sight:
What high-achievers rarely tell is that to press yourself constantly out of your comfort zone, to consistently push beyond what is healthy for a human — which is required — creates an unbalanced human, either one like the mad scientist detached from the physical world, or one like the successful MLM speaker, who needs to maintain reward for the tedious work and travel. In the end, it is never enough.
No discovery, scientific or otherwise, no milestone means this is the end of achievement. There’s always more to require from yourself. There is a feeling of inadequacy at the end of it all, that you should have done more, that you should have enjoyed youth more, that responsibility is taking away from autonomy or authenticity – two of the most valuable things. This is something no one is told before signing on to an MLM plan or a prestigious degree: You will become more machine than man. You will reward yourself with things that probably won’t matter that much. Relationships will suffer if you push yourself constantly because rationality is a thing only rewarding in business and a lack of time lessens every other part of life.
You will help many people along the way, with scientific advancement or with helping more realize their goals, and that is perhaps the only meaningful reward. Money doesn’t mean much after 70K. Security is not a thing humans can ever really grasp.
Success is what you make it. There is a fine line between what saves and destroys. Ambition, like many things, criss-crosses that line. Worldly success requires many things, many things that take us away from the things that make us feel. Complacency has its own cost, but those costs are more apparent and for another time.
Maybe you are on the opposite end of the spectrum: You can never get a hold of life. There are many high-achievers that will churn out endless content on productivity. But the answer is in that: It never ends. Don’t be productive for the sake of being productive or for only money or respect. Eliminate the unnecessary — even unnecessary productivity tips — and with whatever is left, set parameters. Don’t let ambition overcome health mentally and spiritually.
If you have always been a high-achiever, maybe this is your time to examine the points behind it. Family. Anxiety. What are all the to-do lists and stress you put on yourself accomplishing in the long-run? Maybe lessening the burden on yourself means a better life for your children or spouse, even if it could mean less visual success. Turn toward the inside, finding peace in just sitting next to or holding another.