The Art of Achievement (Tom Morris)

Morris, Tom V. The Art of Achievement.

Seven Cs: Conception, Confidence, Concentration, Consistency, Commitment, Character, and Capacious Enjoyment

We are all artists. Art is that which transforms what something is. Before you begin on this journey of the Seven Cs, you must first ask, “What do you want?” and then “Is it right for you?” This is partly what the ancients meant by “Know thyself.” This keeps us from chasing the wrong things.

Tom Morris takes us through the fun process of accurate goal-setting.

Thesis: true success involves discovering, developing, and deploying your talents.

Goal setting is a paradox. It frees us by removing distractions. As we pursue the goal, other things on the path take on clearer focus.

The Art of Conception

A “telos” is a target we can shoot at. This is a clear conception of what we want. In order to have clear goals, we need to set them with our self-knowledge in mind. As Morris notes, “Goal setting is an exercise in self-knowledge.”

When we reach a “critical mass” of self-knowledge, we can begin healthy goal-setting. When we pursue these goals, we find more self-knowledge.

Pithy Sayings

“Know your opportunity” (Pittacus, 600 B.C.)
“The only point of ‘freedom from’ is to provide ‘freedom to’” (Morris).
“For it is feeling and force of imagination that makes us eloquent” (Quintillian).
Thales: “What is difficult? To know yourself.” “What is easy? To give other people advice.”
“Stupidity is without anxiety” (Goethe).
“The arrogant person says ‘Look at me!’ The enthusiastic person says, ‘Look at this!’” (Morris)

Desires aren’t the same as fantasies. A fantasy is fleeting. As Morris notes, “A desire is connected to volition, our capacity for choice.” While desire involves the will, it is not a goal. A goal is a commitment of the will. A goal engages the whole person, not just the intellect. Goal setting should also include cultivating supporting desires that will help you reach that goal.

Paradox: Bigger goals mean we will face more difficulties, but with bigger goals it is easier to engage the whole imagination.

Conceiving goals always involves our purpose. If we can’t state what our purpose is, we can’t make a clear goal. The goal must answer the question, “Why am I doing this?” Or rather, you can’t make a clear goal if you can’t answer that question. Specific goals also need a standard of measurement.

There is a difference between “local maximum” and “global maximum.” The former is when you reach your goals, but you still have room for improvement. Too many companies stay at local maximum.

Part 2: The Art of Confidence

If courage is the mean between cowardice and brashness, then confidence is the mean between anxiety and arrogance.

Logic of confidence: power and skill. Just because you have the skill for x doesn’t mean you are skillful at x. Also included in the logic of confidence is capability, or “moral attributes.” If you are facing any problem dealing with your own confidence, consider this checklist:

* Do I have the power to get the job done?
* Do I have the skill necessary to the task?
* Do I have the opportunity to make this happen?
* Do I have the practical knowledge to put this together?
* Do I feel morally right about this?
* Do I have the heart for this project?

A good leader develops the skill for initiating necessary change. Start by making little decisions. This allows your confidence to grow. He gives another checklist for making yourself mentally able to initiate positive change (and this has been later confirmed by neuroscience).

* Articulation (practice speaking your goal and your plan of attack).
* Directed action. Move forward.

The Art of Concentration

The simple answer: hard work. Morris writes: “Hard work, if it is to be productive, must involve a perceptive and focused concentration on exactly what it will take for us to make progress toward our goals.” This puts balance to our big dreams:

“Big Picture Vision” ———————- Bifocal Thinking ———————————Detail Focus

The extremes are at the end. We need to focus along a spectrum of our goals. In Morris’s words, we are “large-scale strategic thinkers” and “small-scale tacticians.”

Attacking Your Goals

1 Problem. Where are we?
2 Ideal. Where do we want to be?
3 How to get there. How can we get there?

It is always good to anticipate difficulties when you plan your goal. Imagining how you will overcome them will also contribute to the goal setting.

Action epistemology: knowledge often comes from action.
Metaphysical luck: luck never produces success. It can only produce opportunities for success.


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