Okay, this will take a few minutes to read, but if you want a new way to think about how to get what you want, it might be worth the time.
In this blog I want to share some thoughts about: living a rich life, effectively handling the inevitable ups and downs, creating successful relationships and discovering the magic that life seems to promise. And, I want to do that from the perspective of what model or philosophy you are using in approaching those things in your life.
In simple terms (my terms),
- you are using an Achievement Model for living when you: figure out logically what goals would be good ones for you and then you pursue them relentlessly.
- you are using an Awareness Model when you: intuitively are aware of what resonates or just feels right to you in the present, and then intuitively choose how to engage in whatever that is.
Both models create what can be called achievements. In the Achievement Model the achievement is the primary goal of engagement while in the Awareness Model, achievements are by-products of engagement and, current resonance, or what feels right, is the primary guide in engagement.
If you use the Achievement Model, you will want lots of training in order to figure out how to do things specifically designed to produce a pre-determined outcome (the one you think you want).
If you are using the Awareness Model you will want nurturing and support of your energetic awareness in what naturally resonates with you and in discovering ways to engage in those arenas (which is my definition of education – note my last blog).
For example, you might choose to train for a job in computer programming because you have figured out that it can be a high paying industry. Your choice is logical and meets my definition of the Achievement Model. You might then work relentlessly to achieve that goal of high income including often sacrificing your current sense of what feels right (well-being) in order to do that.
On the other hand, suppose that as an educated person using the Awareness Model you recognize and respond to a feeling that you are drawn to explore South America. Researching the cultures there including the old indigenous people’s customs and spirituality might really feel right for you for no particular reason. And you might engage in that resonant arena by backpacking and otherwise just getting down there in any way possible – as a friend of mine actually did.
In her case, after her extended adventure, she created a business where she now takes others on spiritual journeys to sacred places in South America, Asia and Spain. But notice that the creation of her business, although an achievement, was a by-product of the original adventure rather than the goal of it.
Also notice that the Achievement Model has all the reward and fulfillment lying somewhere in the future as a kind of payoff after the sacrifice (high paying job later).
The Awareness Model, on the other hand, has reward and fulfillment as the ongoing and unfolding experience itself, which is never thought of as a sacrifice even though it might be challenging at times (explore South America).
Finally, the Achievement Model tends to create repetitive experience while the Awareness Model tends to create transformative experience. My friend left the corporate world simply because she was drawn to something else not because she figured out what the end game would be. That adventure clearly was transformative for her but again, not because she planned for that – transformation was a natural unfolding in her experience, not the goal of it. No one needs training in how to be transformed and, in fact, by definition training and the elimination of surprise tends to have you resisting natural transformation.
Our Western Worldview tends to think of the Achievement Model as not really a model at all but rather a self-evident law of nature. The belief is that, of course you must achieve something if you want to be happy so, you focus on achievement to guide you.
Don’t kid yourself, that is an illusion and it isn’t how Nature works based on my experience. The Achievement Model does not give Nature, your nature, the credit for transformation. Rather it treats your nature as incomplete or lacking something critical to transformation and fulfillment.
Some people ask, however, isn’t the Awareness Model just a model for self-centered living? My answer is no, because it is founded on trusting Nature rather than your logical figuring out of things. My friend created a business that has benefited many people not because she planned on being benevolent but because engaging in what naturally resonates with her also connects her with what resonates with others. Everyone benefits naturally.
Another question that people sometimes ask about using the Awareness Model: are all progressive and spiritual practices expansive and transformative? No, the reason being that you can choose to think about spirituality and expansion as things to achieve, thereby, subtly shifting them out of the realm of natural experience and into the realm of things to accomplish through effort and sacrifice.
Here is an example of what might be called progressive thinking that is self-sabotaged by using the Achievement Model as the foundation for talking about transformation. It shows up in the Introduction of the book, Mindsight, The New Science of Personal Transformation, by Daniel Siegel.
On page xiv in the Introduction:
“This means that creating well-being – in our mental life, in our close relationships, and even in our bodies – is a learnable skill. Each chapter of this book explores these skills, from basic to advanced, for navigating the sea inside.”
and on page xv:
“By acquiring mind sight skills, we can alter the way the mind functions and move our lives toward integration, away from these extremes of chaos or rigidity.”
The book intends to support personal transformation and yet, in my opinion, by using the language of the Achievement Model, it sabotages the very change it intends. Consider the language: “creating well-being . . . is a learnable skill.” And, “alter the way the mind functions and move our lives toward integration, . . .”
Both sentences position well-being and integration (also presumably transformation) as things to be achieved, which requires training and the learning of skills rather than being a natural process.
Siegel has lots of potentially useful information and possible training in his book in my opinion. What he doesn’t do is educate us in our own natural process (Nature’s process) within which his information and training might be useful. He doesn’t nurture our natural awareness, rather he implies up front that natural awareness is lacking something significant that requires training if you want, for example, well-being.
He also says in the Introduction, that “change never just happens,” i.e. not natural, and that “Mindsight is the basic skill that underlies everything we mean when we speak of having social and emotional intelligence.” The sabotaging idea in the Achievement Model is the idea of lack and his language creates that sense of lack before he even begins Chapter One. In a way, well-being is positioned as an un-natural rather than natural occurrence.
Seigel isn’t offering his ideas as potentially useful to an educated person, he is offering them as critical to gaining “intelligence” and “well-being,” – things that Nature, in his implied opinion, lacks.
That’s an example of the Achievement Model and, in my opinion, it’s not a useful model and it can undermine your creative nature, that innate knowing that has you: living a rich life, effectively handling the inevitable ups and downs, creating successful relationships and discovering the magic that life seems to promise.
Note that Seigel is no light-weight in his field. Here is how he is described on Amazon: “Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., is an internationally acclaimed author, award-winning educator, and child psychiatrist. He is currently a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine where he also serves as a co-investigator at the Center for Culture, Brain, and Development and co-director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center.”
The Achievement Model is an unconscious foundation for how we create our language and it often sabotages our best ideas. I believe that happens in Seigel’s book right in the Introduction.
Until we shift the fundamental model we use (currently the Achievement Model), I feel that we will continue to be frustrated by repeating experience rather than experiencing transformation as a natural part of our experience as individuals, a culture and as a world of people. And, I feel that using the Achievement Model in working with people who are challenged can create more frustration rather than less. In my opinion, people don’t need more training, but they could sure use more education.
In short, the Achievement Model positions and defines our fundamental nature as something that is lacking and must be controlled and by the way, you need training in order to do that (and for a price, I will provide it for you). It’s a great model for selling stuff but not so good for well-being.
Achievement Model or Awareness Model – you pick!