Our Discomfort With Achievement

finish lineOf all the basic needs that we have, I think power is the most misunderstood.

We all accept that relationships are important, and that we all need love in our lives.  We appreciate that everyone needs some fun sometimes – after all, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!  Freedom is something so basic to us in Canada, that it’s hard to think about what life would be like if we didn’t have the freedoms we do that are guaranteed to us by law.  But power…. it’s a little stickier.

I have an assessment that I use in Restitution training to help people see how their behaviour is driven by the needs.  When someone has a strong desire for any of the other needs, it isn’t such a big deal.  But I’ve frequently seen people get very uncomfortable when power is identified as a strong need for them.

Why does this need get such a bad rap?  What is wrong with someone striving to achieve?

I think sometimes it’s because power is associated with those who have abused power.  We think about the damage done by “power-hungry” people who fulfill their power need by controlling others.  But power doesn’t have to be achieved at someone else’s expense.  Power can be found in that sense of accomplishment – when you master something that you’ve had to work hard for.

Yet, we remain uncomfortable with sharing that satisfaction with achievement.  We don’t judge people as being “braggy” when we share our pleasure about entering a new relationship or having an awesome vacation.  But talk about an achievement, and others sometimes roll their eyes and criticize you for being so full of yourself.  Or, if someone is talking about an achievement you have made, you may feel embarrassment for that being shared.  Often I’ve heard people minimize their accomplishment – “It’s not that big a deal”.

Why is that this basic need is one which so many of us have difficulty accepting as a necessary part of satisfaction and happiness in life?

I wonder….is this a Canadian thing?  For those of you who have experiences in other countries, do you see this too?



2 thoughts on “Our Discomfort With Achievement

  1. Í think this humble attitude has to do with religious upbringing in my country. It was common to say like: “he ís even not able to be ashame of himself”


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