Great Accomplishments – The Journey is the Real Reward


All of us really get excited when we achieve something great in life. It can be an event, like achieving a great qualification like getting a high-class MBA degree, Ph.D. etc. It can be certain major milestones in our lives like landing on a lucrative job, our marriage, the birth of a child, the marriage of our son/daughter etc.

There have been great accomplishments in the world – e.g. Mission to Moon, major scientific and technological discoveries, development of several innovative products and so on. The efforts and expectations that go with these are often a mixture of joy and sufferings which do not matter at the end; rather being engaged in these activities gives them satisfaction and joy of fulfillment.

All such accomplishments bring lots of joy to us. But even greater joy, perhaps is the expectations preceding these events finally happening, during which period we keep on imagining ‘oh, finally, my son or daughter is going to get married. The ‘going to get done’ feeling which keeps building up till the actual ‘happening’ is certainly more joyful than the actual joy when things do happen. In fact, for a moment immediately after the ‘happening’ of the event, there is not much left to derive – that almost continuous joy culminating in the accomplishment,

Take the case of a book you are publishing. Here again, polishing the final manuscript, sending to a publisher, a few initial rejections, the hope of acceptance of your stuff by the publisher, the time lag between then and the actual moment when you can be proud that the ‘book has evolved’, all these events involving big expectations provide the real joy – perhaps more than the joy of seeing the final book itself.

Another typical example is a cricket match which is finally won, giving joy to the winning team and to those who watched the game. But the real and prolonged joy is actually associated with the anxious moments, often exciting, and each move, each over played, each run scored, each big hit, occasional jerks when things do not go as expected, are all the things players relish more and the people will go on talking, experiencing a joy greater than the final win itself.

Steve Jobs was involved in building Apple, the institution, and the various technological products which were characterized by incredible technology. While he ultimately derived great joy in all these achievements, what he himself felt was really different. He said ‘The journey is the reward. It is not just the accomplishment of something incredible. It is the actual doing of something incredible, day in and day out, getting the chance to participate in something really incredible!’

In his best seller book Alchemy, Paulo Coelho talks of the dream of the shepherd boy, his belief in some predictions about his realizing the dream, the ‘principle of favourability’ – ( the so-called beginner’s luck), the journey through the deserts in pursuit of his dream, the belief in the saying, ‘if you want something, the universe conspires in making you achieve it’ – these are the joys, which continue in a stream and which have more ‘joy potential’ than his actual joy of his encounter with the Alchemist. While on the one hand, the fulfillment of his dream is the peak of his joyous moment, once that is achieved, the excitement begins to slow down, and gradually disappears – all the same his expectations throughout his long journey proved to be the ultimate ‘reward’.

It is also true that great accomplishments need an approach to carry on with optimism and a ‘can do’ spirit. Optimism stems from your belief, entrenching it firmly in your mind, and prodding you to pursue your dream of achieving what you want to achieve. As Natalie Amsden said, ‘The key to navigating the journey toward joy is to understand the role that expectations can play in your experiences of joy and suffering’.


About cvsubramaniam

Former Director, Department of Electronics & Informatiin Technology, Government of India.. Authored Book on Human Resource Management. Published 80 plus articles on HR, Management, S&T, general topics.
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