“This could have been better.” – I should have been better.
“It didn’t turnout the way I expected.” – I didn’t do a good enough job.
“I am disappointed in the results.” – I failed.
During a conversation with a friend I noticed a pattern. Whenever they talked about something they achieved, it was immediately followed by reasons why it didn’t either go as planned, or why it could have been better.
This pattern applied to all achievements, big or small.
Released something big and creative into the world? It was not the right time and it could have been better, and it wasn’t perfect, and it had “wrong notes.”
Connected with and helped someone else? It really didn’t go as planned and didn’t really provide any value, it perhaps even wasted their time.
It was as if every time they tried to build a small reminder of their achievement, something would come right behind them and start tearing it down.
They couldn’t take a moment to savor achieving anything, without experiencing a loss. As I spoke it out (despite sounding rhyming and goofy) it rang true.
“You don’t seem to be able to experience any achieving without experiencing a loss, almost like you are grieving at the same time of what could have been, or should have been.
Achieving and Grieving.
Patterns are so easy to recognize…in others.
As a reflected, I experience the same pattern. Trying to celebrate, only to be frustrated and sad when things do not turn out “good enough.”
Some of the grieving of what could have been is easy to shake off, other times it seems to linger in my mind. One particular example has stayed with me longer than I thought.
A little more than a year ago, I got to run a race with one of my kids. I trained hard and was ready. We started off and everything felt good. We joked and chatted. Shortly after the halfway mark, I stared to slow my pace. Something was wrong. During the last few miles I couldn’t keep going and had to walk.
They were totally patient with me and we did a run/walk combination to finally finish. We got our medals and went to the celebration party afterwards.
As I look back, the grieving completely took over any chance of being able to celebrate the achieving. This grieving would find its way into my mind during other runs, and I found myself walking again. The grieving from a prior event kept invading the present.
Unfortunately, the Achieving and Grieving pattern is not exclusive to running.
That presentation that didn’t seem to connect with everyone.
That proposal that was only partially accepted.
The [insert your achievement here] that [insert your grieving here].
Realizing my own Achieving and Grieving pattern was a great first step. Often I failed to celebrate the achievements along this journey because they are viewed through this cloudy lens of grief.
It is time to clean this lens.
It won’t be easy but I am practicing a new pattern.
I am working to separate the Achieving from the Grieving.
When I achieve something, no matter how small, I pause to recognize it.
And since my mind seems to want a second step, I am replacing the Grieving with Appreciating.
Appreciating the work involved in the project.
Appreciating the creativity in that new idea.
Appreciating writing (this blog) again.
Appreciating these 50 year old legs that will still carry me for miles.
Let’s experiment together.
For the next 30 days, let’s try this new pattern: Achieving and Appreciating.
Keep us posted on your progress.
2 thoughts on “Achieving and Grieving”
This really resonated with me — as a person whose “achiever” strength is dominant, I can get so caught up in the idea of improving or hitting the next target that I don’t spend time appreciating what just happened. Also, like many people, I’ve been conditioned to be humble, which many of us confuse with being self-deprecating. We all admire servant leaders, but there is a difference between serving and being harder on yourself than you would be on others. This combination of demanding more of yourself and being hard on yourself can lead to wanting, or even counting on, external appreciation, which can lead to further disappointment. I think gratitude and appreciation are closely linked, and while I’ve tried to practice gratitude in my personal life and encourage supervisees to call out each other’s successes at work, I haven’t tried to be grateful about my OWN work. You’ve given me a lot to consider here, as always. I’m going to try to try “achieving and appreciating” and share it with my team. Thanks!
Thank you Deb. I’m with you on the “achiever” dominant strength and I didn’t realize this pattern that can be part of trying to hard to accomplish things. Gratitude – YES! Much harder with our own work. Thanks again for the comment and for all that you do. Let’s connect soon, it has been too long since we had one of our chats.
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