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Old 12-14-08, 01:15 AM   #1
thebarerider
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The Achievement Ethic

One minute I held the key...next minute the walls were closed on me. . .

(long post)

I have always been a mellow, if not lazy, person.

When I entered law school this fall, my goal was to do as well as I could while still maintaining balance in my life. I was confident that I could do it. My brother, who graduated from law school many years ago, told me again and again that it wasn't that hard, that people make it into a bigger deal than it really is, and that if I just kept up on the readings I would be ok.

I worked hard at maintaining that balance. I took one or two evenings off a week, and usually most of one of the weekend days. I kept up in all my classes and prepared my course outlines for the finals before the last week of class began. That was about the time when I decided I had to be the best in my class.

I think, after one week of exams down and another week to go, that I will not be the best in my class. I want to believe that I did well, but truth be told I know I could have written much better exams. I will not be surprised if I receive very average grades. In an era of grade inflation, this can be a very big blow to the ego. . .

But I don't think it should be. The achievement ethic which has gripped my school, as I'm sure it grips many students at most professional schools, is hollow if not supported by substance. I believe there are many people who seek to achieve in order to do great things, and I support them in their hard work. But I have much humbler goals for my life, and being a leader--even in my community--is not one of them. It is hard to remember my personal goals while surrounded with people who have much different goals than I do, who seek positions of power and leadership in the state, the region, or maybe the nation and world.

It is difficult, but I am trying to regain my focus. Exams and the fever that surrounds them have enveloped my world, and I want to emerge from that clear headed and re-focused. Has anyone else ever been swept up in a wave that they did not believe was right, either for them or absolutely? It is a suffocating feeling.

. . . who would ever want to be king?
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Old 12-14-08, 07:23 AM   #2
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Isolate yourself with quietness ...

This is only for you, the rest don't matter.
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Old 12-14-08, 09:30 AM   #3
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As a 50 year old in University it was hard too.

In class with either students who felt that the grade was the objective, and students that were there because they felt they had to be with a goal of just enough work to get a C. Nobody with real balance.

I often felt I was the only person there with the primary objective to learn.
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Old 12-14-08, 09:34 AM   #4
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In ancient China you had the kings and then you had the literati.


The ones fighting to be king came and went while the literati sat on the mountain and offered advice. For hundreds of years the kings fought and died while the literati grew old and wise upon the mountain.

We can't all be king, even if we wanted to. But we all can climb the mountain. That much is certain. It is not certain, however, that wisdom will prevail.
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Old 12-14-08, 09:35 AM   #5
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The entire modern population is being driven insane by the slavery to achievement and the obsession with top performance in everything and at all times. We see this reflected in Bike Forums posts every day. It takes a lot of determination to stay out of it. There may be some lessons in the Tao, but every kind of philosophy and spirituality has the same core message in some way or another.

There is another kind of achievement which may ultimately be more valuable than material and measurable success.
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Old 12-14-08, 10:39 AM   #6
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I wish we were all balanced and content.

But failing that, it is actually in your selfish interest for others to worry and fight for achievement for two reasons:

-as they work, hopefully they will do work that needs to be done.
-as they work, they will leave space for you to accomplish your own ends

Figuring out what you need in life is the hardest thing there is. Well worth spending some time to attempt answering this for yourself. And cultivating what you need is the ONLY thing worth spending your time on once you have some understanding.

jim
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Old 12-14-08, 10:44 AM   #7
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Take a long ride on your Trek. No Cell Phone.
Enjoy, Ride Safe. Breath Fresh Air.
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Old 12-14-08, 11:40 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
Take a long ride on your Trek. No Cell Phone.
Enjoy, Ride Safe. Breath Fresh Air.
It is 70F and breezy today. I am about to head out on a ride for the first time in a month. Should be a blast

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Originally Posted by jgedwa View Post
I wish we were all balanced and content.

But failing that, it is actually in your selfish interest for others to worry and fight for achievement for two reasons:

-as they work, hopefully they will do work that needs to be done.
-as they work, they will leave space for you to accomplish your own ends

Figuring out what you need in life is the hardest thing there is. Well worth spending some time to attempt answering this for yourself. And cultivating what you need is the ONLY thing worth spending your time on once you have some understanding.

jim
I agree completely. Without people seeking to be better, life would not be nearly as comfortable and I might not be able to even worry about finding my own peace.

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Originally Posted by Little Darwin View Post
As a 50 year old in University it was hard too.

In class with either students who felt that the grade was the objective, and students that were there because they felt they had to be with a goal of just enough work to get a C. Nobody with real balance.

I often felt I was the only person there with the primary objective to learn.
I have always felt like that, too. In law school, it is much easier to have an intelligent discussion with someone about the material, because even if they don't care about learning for its own sake, they know they have to know it and know it well. As an undergrad, many people knew that they could scrape by on the least possible effort and did so.

Can't wait to get some fresh air.
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Old 12-14-08, 11:46 AM   #9
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As a teacher, everything is achievement based anymore - the Standardized test is King, and if your students are poor achievers, their scores will suck you down until you're fired.

I'm not a king fighting with other kings, I'm merely clinging onto the cliff face with just my fingertips as 90 children are hanging to my ankles waiting for me to pull them to success.

I will admit though, while I strove for balance in college, I was grade-oriented. In the current teacher job market, if your grades are less than stellar and you can't BS your way out of a paper bag, you have no hope of ever teaching.

At the moment, I've found my own peace through my writing.
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Old 12-14-08, 11:50 AM   #10
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Easy concept. Hard in practice.

This is strictly an issue with your letting other people affect you. I'll say it again. You are letting them do it. Just stop. Focus on your goals and ignore what others do. The only thing you have control over is you. Just ignore it.

I know, easier said than done. But this is a very real issue with mental training in competitive sports.
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Old 12-14-08, 12:00 PM   #11
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But this is a very real issue with mental training in competitive sports.

Should learning be a competitive sport?
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