This week I read an article about the challenge to become something better. The article made the point that joy and pride come from what you have become, rather than what you have done. I found the perspective interesting since our society praises accomplishment. We worship those who do great things. Yet the more I thought about it, the more I realized the author made a great point. Often, our society has a “what have you done for me lately” mentality. All your previous efforts can be forgotten at the drop of a hat by a slight miscue or perceived slight. This is because our instant gratification mentality requires constant feeding and care. Yet, for those trying to feed the monster, even small wins are never satisfying enough.
In an interview, endurance athlete Amelia Boone talked about feeding the gratification monster. She discussed how after number one, winning races wasn’t satisfying anymore. She revealed that what brings her the most satisfaction now is the training leading up to a race. The intense hours spent in preparation, refining and honing her skills is where she found joy. She found joy in becoming something she wasn’t. She had become more.
As I reflected on the challenge to become, I thought about a recent experience I had reached a goal. After reached the goal, I felt a pride and sense of accomplishment. Yet, within a few hours, I began contemplating the next step and what that would take. After the initial excitement wore off, I began to look back at where I had come from. I began to realize and understand what Ms. Boone meant. How real satisfaction comes from the hours spent in training and refining things. I had become what I worked towards. I had become something better. The completion of the goal had become nothing more than a mile marker in my journey.
In the business world, many individuals take shortcuts to get to the top. They think getting the next promotion or raise will meet their desires and give them what they need. Often, when they get there, they discover it isn’t enough and they struggle with who they became to get there. The challenge to become isn’t about a destination, it is about the process. It is about taking the long view of things. It is about understanding the temporary nature of accomplishment. It is about looking at who you are and embracing the pain growth brings.
In reviewing the process of becoming I came across the G.R.O.W model for development. G.R.O.W stands for Goals, Reality, Obstacles and What. The model helps one identify the path for achieving their goals. What I found most beneficial about the model was the reality and obstacles check. The challenging thing about the reality check was getting past the negative voices in my head. While reality can be scary, it is never as bad as the movie in one’s head. Upon careful examination, many of my perceived obstacles weren’t real either. After examining the root causes of the perceived obstacles, I discovered something. I discovered that there were only two or three concrete obstacles to overcome, rather than my huge initial list. Once I understood those issues, it was easy to put the processes in place to deal with them.
The biggest thing I learned from the whole process was I didn’t set my goal high enough. I held myself back by my not stretching far enough. I discovered the truth about being capable of so much more than I thought I was. In the final analysis, we are the sum of all our actions. We aren’t defined by one project or event. Rather, we define ourselves by what we do along the way of becoming who we are.