The difference between the achievement and wisdom models

The major difference between the achievement model and wisdom model is that the achievement model measures development by how much you can manipulate reality to match what’s in your mind, whereas the wisdom model measures development by how much what’s in your mind matches what’s actually happening in reality. And so once you are educated by life to learn the accuracy of the wisdom model, you can start to see that everything which happens in your life plays a role in your development by upgrading your beliefs about that which exists and can occur in reality, and thus increases your wisdom. Every experience is offering value to your life, even the experience of suffering massive amounts of psychological pain. This is the understanding which will start to bring relief from such pain.

At first glance, it can appear that the “achievement model” is the more goal-oriented model, and that the “wisdom model” is more to do with letting go of trying to control life so much. But in fact, it is really the opposite. It is the “wisdom model” which will allow you to continue to see benefits in working on goals no matter how life unfolds. The “achievement model” philosophies are really saying this: “You must be able to BEAT THE UNIVERSE before you’re allowed to feel good about yourself”. Meaning any events that the universe offers which get in the way of life unfolding how you want it to – YOU MUST BEAT THEM! Good luck with that!! I remember I used to say to myself very often that “Life is impossible! It’s just impossible!” And that’s because having total control over everything in universe is literally impossible! The achievement model simply fools people into believing that something’s wrong with them when they realise they don’t have that control.  It is this philosophy that makes people scared of having a go at certain goals for fear of failure, or makes people spit the dummy towards certain ambitions when they are constantly beating themselves up for not living up to a particular standard. Only under the wisdom model can you see that it’s always worth having a go at working on your desired future, because such efforts will always be producing the activity which is playing a role in everyone’s development. There is no chance of failure and no standard which you must live up to! It is “goals are interesting to work on and have benefits” rather than “I must hate myself until I achieve that goal”.

For example, lets consider two sisters taking an exam. The first sister comes running home to her mother after the exam, exclaiming with great relief  that “I did it, I passed! Phheeewww! I don’t know what I would have done if I failed. I would’t have been able to live with myself – my whole future would have been ruined. God I’m dreading going back to school, what if I fail next time?”.

The second sister then comes home and quite happily explains to her Mum that “Oh yea I didn’t pass the exam, I really tried my best though so I’m proud of that. At least now the teacher knows where I’m up to so when I go back to school we can continue from there! I’m so excited to go back to school Mum! There’s so much to learn!”

Which sister do you think has greater personal development? Which sister is in need of help? Well, quite often society would have their attention on the second sister because she failed the exam. But in reality, the second sister was fine. She believed every event was simply a chance to grow and learn more. It was the first sister who was in trouble and needed help in this example. She was incorrectly measuring her development by whether she passed the exam or not. She also had her self esteem completely on the line, governed by that outcome. Her account of reality was not correct.

Which is an example of greater personal development? Passing an exam? Or not jumping off a bridge if you failed the exam!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   The answer to that question defines the difference between the achievement model or wisdom model for measuring personal development!

In the above examples you can try substituting “passing the exam” with any other criteria people can be found to be measuring themselves by. Did you or didn’t you live up to whatever the expectations were? If you did, was that a huge relief? If you didn’t, was that the end of the world? If so, you are still living at least partly by the achievement model. Most of us are, including myself. But all the psychological pain caused by the achievement model will be playing an important role in letting us know how much we have to learn.


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