The New Times (Kigali)

5 February 2013

Rwanda: Achievement Is Not Necessarily Success

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'WHILE GOALS are an important part of life, we should be careful not to make the achievement of goals our only criteria for success,' by Marvin J. Ashton.

I was first confronted with this rather controversial reality of life that achievement is not necessary success way back in 2009, when I read a book entitled The secrets of super achievers by Philip Baker.

The title of the book had given the impression that the author had put together empirical formula for success. Naturally, like all human beings with an overdrive and ambition to achieve, to succeed and be regarded a super hero. I was first shocked by the opening paragraph of the first chapter "the concept of character is often quoted, seldom practiced. Talk is cheap but doing makes the difference. In this regard, character seems to be the forgotten word of our generation...integrity is about building an inner world that remains stable and secure, despite external concerns or comforts".

On further reading, I discovered that there is a big distinction between achievement and success in life. While as human beings, we think that the end justifies the means and we can do anything to get at the top in terms of achievements, whether we raise the necessary money through cheating, stealing, killing, human sacrifice or any other dishonest means. When we do this and erect buildings houses, drive posh cars people regard us as achievers.

True, those are achievements but not success. From this book, I discovered that true success in life is not solely about material possession and amount of money we acquire, the office we hold or about what goals we attain. Rather success is more about the quality of life we lead. From this book, I learnt that achievement may have positive or negative results; it may result in happiness or misery and suffering depending on how such material possessions were acquired and the quality of life one leads. For example, is it desirable to be very rich but have sleepless nights? Is it desirable to have a lot of material possessions with a broken and dysfunctional family?

In this book, Philip Bakers contends that some achievements are desirable while others are not. To him achievement becomes success if it is earned through hard work, when it results in joy, happiness and a sense of fulfillment. Anybody, woman/man who has peace of mind and enjoys his/her sleep is a successful person. Any achiever with no regret, no guilt, with clear and clean consciousness who has peace of mind can be regarded successful. He affirms that any achievements in riches, power, marriage status or any other attainment that causes misery, fear, suffering, isolation, regrets, guilt and the like is not success.

As human beings, we should not strive for such achievements. I learnt that there are two critical factors that may turn achievements into success; how it is attained and what we do with it. Any achievement that is not attained without integrity cannot bring joy or happiness. That is why we often hear of many killings, human sacrifices, people committing suicide; we have very many drunkards, people who delay to go home after work in the evenings and decide to 'kill' time in bars. That is why we have very many marriages of convenience, many dysfunctional families and numerous divorces.

Social research shows that more rich people commit suicide than poor ones. Professor Peter Kasenene in his book. This you need to Know, asserts that '...to be successful materially you need to be rich with integrity...that integrity is one of the necessary conditions for happiness and therefore for success'. But what is integrity? Etymologically, integrity comes from a Latin word inter which means whole, complete, un-divided. Integrity, therefore, refers to moral soundness, not wanting and not confused. It is attained when one does the right thing in the right way; truthfully and honestly.

To be continued next week...

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