Magazine article Success

Beyond Accomplishment

Magazine article Success

Beyond Accomplishment

Article excerpt

Plenty of people accomplish things every day. I'm sure you know them--the folks whose to-do lists are never-ending progressions of check marks. Go to the grocery store? Check. Make copies of the report? Check. Email Fred? Check.

Sure, they are getting stuff done. But are they really achieving anything?

There's a big difference between achievement and accomplishment, and it boils down to one word: intentionality. "To accomplish" means to bring something to a conclusion. But "to achieve" means bringing about an intended result.

It's like the old story of the stonemasons. A stranger walks by a construction site and comes upon a stonemason. When the stranger asks what the mason is doing, he replies, "I'm laying stones." The next day the stranger strolls by again and sees a different mason at work. When the stranger asks him what he's doing, the mason replies, "I'm building a wall." On the third day, the man sees yet another mason at work and again asks what the mason is doing. With great joy in his voice, the worker replies, "I'm building a cathedral!" It's a corny story, but I love it for so many reasons. First, each mason accomplished something. Day by day and stone by stone, the project progressed because of their efforts. Second, the tale speaks to the power of perspective: For the first mason, the assignment was a menial task; for the second, it was a manageable project; for the third, it was a marvelous goal. That parable, to me, perfectly captures the power of achievement. …

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