Achievement: 5) One more thing

This series has been a contemplation on the recipe for achievement. Any kind of achievement, either big or small. By any actor, either individual or group. The ingredients of that recipe are not particularly hard to deduce, and we all have a certain sense of what they are without going to such lengths of writing them down in this way. This has been armchair philosophy of the highest and most self-indulgent order. But I find this kind of exercise useful, simply to clarify and get my own thoughts in line, and I hope that some of it may have been interesting for you too. Even if it caused you to scoff out loud at my take on things and my way of describing it, then maybe that's helped you to think about how you think about things all the same, in which case that's still some kind of success. Please, write it down, or make a song about it, or a cryptic painting, and tell us all about what's going on from your point of view.

In trying to distill that recipe, in picking apart the mess of overlapping stories around us into some kind of pattern, we have come to a small set of elements that may help us make sense of things. In identifying those elements in our own lives, we may better understand where we've come from and why and how our current situation is at it is. More importantly, though, we may better understand where to go next, or at least how to make the next move.

What was our starting potential, and have we made best use of it? Were we able to make best use of it, given our power? And did we even want to make best use of it, given our will? What has the journey taught us along the way, and have we consolidated those learnings into meaningful insight? With some of these questions answered, or at least being contemplated, we can better look at our current potential, power, and will, and use our knowledge and wisdom to identify which aspects are helping us and which are hindering us.

Potential is fairly abstract for sure, and is essentially unknown. We don't really have any idea what we are able to achieve other than by simply trying as hard as we can, given the desire and ability to do so. Also, we never really know how much time we've got, which is one of the major factors of potential. Can't do anything without time. We must assume that it's not so short as to put us in a state of blind panic or despair, fretting over what we may then see as wasted time up to that point. But we must also assume that it's not so long as to allow everything to stay in the "one day" category, that mythical time which can be continuously put off. Because ultimately, one day there will be no more days.

With potential unknown, we must consider power and will as the two main components of the nexus that really control the flow at any one time. If we are able to do something, then we can simply go ahead and do it. That is, as long as we have the will to do so. If we don't have the will, then we must seek inspiration, and not feel bad for any apparent inaction at this stage. Reading, watching, listening, stimulating our senses in any and all ways, is the only way to be inspired. It should be fun. It should be enjoyable. It should be done without a care. Because it is only from such beginnings that care can come at all. If you find the right key to wind up the clockwork, then the rest will just run itself from that energy. Re-wind as necessary.

However, that's sometimes easier said than done. A certain level of power is first required in order to establish the right conditions for inspiration. Needs and comfort must be met to a base level. We must feel safe and calm. Our environment and luck play a big role here, especially in those crucial early days as we grow up, which bias our lives towards fortune or misfortune that has a high chance of staying with us, one way or another. We must help society to drift in a positive direction in this respect, to enable everyone to the highest degree possible. An inspired, wilful, and capable society is mutually beneficial.

Knowledge should be sought and valued, but realised for what it truly is all the same. There's a distinct difference between knowing a recipe and being a truly good cook. That only comes not from simply knowing what your ingredients are, but from knowing what they mean, what they do individually and in combination, and how to use them most effectively.

Furthermore, the most useful knowledge is not always about facts and their relationships either. There can be and often is far more value in knowing people, both in abstract terms and in real terms. In abstract terms, that is to empathise with how people think and feel, to imagine perspectives other than our own, and to use that to modify our own behaviour and to influence theirs. In real terms, that is simply to connect and communicate with people, to seek out and nurture relationships, to help and to be helped. For every door there is a lock, for every lock a key, and for every key a custodian. Such barriers don't need a crowbar, if you know and are on good terms with those who can control them. Many of the most effective people are those who have and who can rely on a rich network of others. Spend time with people, as well as your books, and you will gain an altogether different class of knowledge, a special brand of wisdom, that can't be tested but can very much sway the game. I was going to avoid the old saying, but it has to be said - it ain't what you know, it's who you know.

At any one time we have a collection of experiences giving us certain knowledge, and yet our exact memory of the constituent parts may be more or less clear. Our thought cycles and rhythms bring different things in and out of focus at different times. Storage memory is of course useful, but in the moment it won't always help us. Our day-to-day lives are generally not binary, we don't progress through a set of digital hurdles with pass or fail outcomes based on something that we do or don't know or recall at any one time. For the most part, our tasks are somewhat fuzzy, and it is the storage memory compacted as instinct and intuition that we mostly rely on. This is a highly evolved tool, just like any other aspect of our being, but its nature and limitations should be realised for what they are. It is a muscle that must be trained to be truly effective, primed with that digital fodder of information to become analogue in the mix.

There is opinion, and there is informed opinion, and they are two very different things. It's natural for many people to trust themselves more than others, as an understandable protective measure. But we must also try to recognise how our intuitive opinions compare to those of others, when put into context. Many people want their voices to be heard, sometimes drowning out those which are quieter but which nonetheless may have something more important or more relevant to say. We must listen, as well as speak. And even if we don't agree with what we hear, we at least gain further insight to other perspectives, which helps to sculpt our own understanding of the overall pattern of things.

There is a science and an art to everything discussed here, and each side plays off the other. The science is linear, rational, and methodical. The art is non-linear, irrational, and anarchic. But to do science well can involve taking turns on a whim or a hunch, based on some intuition from compacted experience, an educated guess. Likewise, art may best be done with careful and reasoned intent. The important thing about science and art as concepts is that they are not so much about the outcomes but rather about the processes, and many things require an aspect of both linear and non-linear action.

In this series, all the necessary elements for achievement have been evaluated, one by one. But we are not quite done yet. There is one more secret ingredient, and because you've been such a good audience, I'll tell you what it is. What's necessary for achievement will only get something done to the first degree. It's what's unnecessary that really makes all the difference. A detail. A flourish. An attitude. To not only achieve, but to achieve with style. Because then you go beyond your own goals, and set in motion a much deeper chain of events. Then you inspire. Your will becomes dispersed and amplified, and, whether or not history records it, your tune will become part of the symphony. It will change over time, for sure. Nothing lasts. But this is your time, the only time you can directly affect, and you are part of the flow here and now. Go ahead and change it. At the very least, go ahead and try. And whatever you do, do it with style.


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