virgin islands scene

Every great work of art has two faces, one toward its own time and one toward the future, toward eternity.
-- Daniel Barenboim


The MONTHLY Motivator - April 2013

Empty or full?

Do you want a life that’s empty, or a life that’s full? Do you want to just take from life, grab the things that look pleasurable and nice, or do you want to make a contribution? Do you want to make a difference, and to have satisfaction of knowing that you really make a difference in life? Yes, everyone matters. But not everyone feels like they matter. Do you want a life where you’re not sure if you really matter? Or do you want a life where you’re certain, beyond any doubt, that you do matter, to life, that life has change for the better because you are in it, that the world is a better place because of what you do?

Everyone wants to be somebody. Everyone wants to feel significant. And one of the best ways to feel significant, authentically significant, is to achieve, is to get things done, to get important and meaningful and useful and positive things accomplished. That’s what achievement is, and it can take countless different forms. There’s no limit to the ways you can achieve. You don’t have to meet someone’s criteria for achievement. All you have to do is make a difference in a positive way. All you have to do is make the world a better place. You don’t even have to make a lot of money, you don’t even have to get a lot of recognition. That’s all good stuff, but it’s not essential. It’s not the essence of achievement. The essence of achievement is making a difference, is doing something useful. It’s making the world a better place—making a contribution.

Achievement is compassion. Achievement is love put into action. Achievement is charity. But achievement is different than just giving away money. Because achievement is a sustainable form of compassion. Achievement pays for itself. If you had ten million dollars and you wanted to give away money to worthy causes, that’s wonderful. You would go out and give away and give away and give away. Well at some point that ten million dollars is going to run out. It will be great while it lasts. You’ll have a great sense of fulfillment and satisfaction from making a difference in other people’s lives, and that’s wonderful. But what happens is, it runs out. You give and give and give and then it runs out. It’s gone. Because it is not sustainable. It’s wonderful, it’s beautiful, it’s compassionate and loving, but it’s not sustainable.

What is sustainable is achievement. Achievement doesn’t merely redistribute value that already exists. Achievement creates new value. Achievement makes the pie bigger. It doesn’t merely divide up the pie that’s already there. It bakes dozens and dozens of additional pies, and after that, even more. Achievement sets up a bakery of pies where the pies just keep coming, and you don’t have to worry about what fraction you divide the pies into. Everybody gets a pie with achievement. You don’t just get a fraction. Everybody gets a whole pie. And when you finish that pie there’s another one coming. That is the power of achievement.

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--Ralph Marston

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