Achievement, like success, means something different to everyone. Join author Diana St. Lifer as she shares “The Secret in Achieving.“
Written By Diana St. Lifer
Henry David Thoreau captured the true essence of achievement best when he said, “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”
Too often we measure the worthiness of our achievements by the destination rather than the journey. It reminds me of the story of a young baseball player who was determined to hit the ball into the outfield at his next at bat. He played the scene over and over in his mind of executing the perfect swing and ball taking off like a missile to the outfield.
When the ballplayer stepped up to the plate, he swung his bat and the ball rocketed through the air right toward the outfield just as he had imagined. It was high, it was long, but at the last minute the outfielder put his glove up and caught the ball.
Did ball player achieve what he intended? Interesting question.
Achievement, like success, means something different to everyone. Or at least it should. To latch onto society’s definition of achieving is a sure fire way of setting ourselves up for perceived failure and disappointment.
There is no one set formula to achievement, as Susan Vernicek, editor of Identity Magazine, points out. “It is about discovering one’s internal secret,” she says. “Everyone achieves differently. It’s a matter of tapping into your zone of focus and drive.”
How right she is! In that spirit I decided to ask a six fabulously accomplished women—who also inspire others to be their best—to share their thoughts on achievement and if they have a secret sauce.
From a basketball Hall of Famer, award-winning author, and positive psychologist to a community organizer, thought coach, and magazine director…what they say is profound, insightful and a reminder that achievement is, indeed, intimately personal.
Carol “The Blaze” Blazejowski, retired professional women’s basketball player and former president and general manager of the WNBA’s New York Liberty. She is a Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer and one of the greatest scorers in the history of women’s basketball:
“I would consider my enshrinement into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as my greatest achievement. As a pre-Title IX youth who didn’t have the opportunity to participate in organized sports until my senior year in high school, I never would have thought that some 20 years later I would get the call regarding my selection.” Blazejowksi says her passion for basketball, as a player and working in the industry, combined with her work ethic, drive, focus, commitment to excellence and competitive spirit led ignite her achievements both on and off the court.
Lorraine Ash, journalist, founder of Cape House Publishing, and author of Life Touches Life: A Mother’s Story of Stillbirth and Healing (2004) and Self and Soul: On Creating a Meaningful Life (2012):
“My biggest achievement has not been a single piece of writing or a single presentation or a wall of writing awards. It’s been enduring in a turbulent age. The worlds of newspapers and books have shrunk. The digital world has grown. My personal world has been rocked repeatedly by tragedy and challenge. In all cases, I’ve adapted. I remain employed in the newspaper world. My husband and I created our own book publishing company. I have added techno skills, including video making, to my storytelling toolbox. I have done what I needed to do to consistently keep writing articles, essays, and books that reach readers in the recesses of their hearts and spirits. In fact, it seems the toughness of the times has called for deeper, better stories. Always answering the call is the biggest achievement.
“My personal secret achievement is caring. In the end, that’s what propels me to walk the extra mile, bore down the extra layer, and put in the extra hours not only to enhance my own writing but to help others. I mentor, coach, edit, and teach writing because I understand that stories do no less than form our identities as people and communities. I greatly enjoy teaching people how to articulate, share, and understand what has happened to them and around them. I feel a sense of mission around the teaching because we live in a culture that, unfortunately, tends toward silencing or commercializing stories. They’re far too important for that kind of treatment.”
Diane Lang, therapist, educator, author and positive psychology expert.
“Having my daughter is my greatest achievement, but more important is being a good mom. I wasn’t sure I could handle motherhood. I was scared, but so far so good. Professionally, I feel really proud of my two books (Babysteps: The Path from Motherhood to Career and Creating Balance and Finding Happiness.) They are both a labor of love. The information and tools in the books are the same ones I used to make decisions and changes. My biggest accomplishment was reversing my thought process and finding my true self. I’m still a work in progress, but I feel confident and happy about where I am. My accomplishment includes changing my thoughts and accepting who I am. True acceptance took a long time, but I’m sure glad I got there.
“I have a routine that has allowed me to make the changes and be a good mom. Without this routine I feel lost and unbalanced. I start my day with meditation, then a gratitude check, prayers for others and a nice long walk. This keeps me emotionally and spiritually healthy so I can reach my goals.”
Jennifer Glick, executive director, Jeremy’s Heroes, an organization dedicated to giving all children the opportunity to improve themselves and their communities through organized sports.
“I am most proud of watching my own children and the Jeremy’s Heroes (JH) children become compassionate participants in their communities. My sons, ages 20, 16 and 9, see community service as regular part of their lives rather than an anomaly. The JH children, who might not have the same opportunities as my children, begin to see the importance of their roles in their communities and, as they finish our program, also see community service as a normal part of life. Encouraging our future generations to take ownership of their own communities and lead their peers to improve the lives of others will encourage others to continue paying it forward.
“Everyone’s path to achievement is different, but what all achievers have in common is a passion for what they are doing, and a drive to see it through, no matter what obstacles stand in the way. You must have the ability to look beyond that naysayers, stay positive even when others say you are unrealistic, and continue to have hope. “
Jaye Regincos, thought coach, and creator and founder of Thought in Motion:
“My greatest achievement is that I have a firm hold over my ego. When I stopped letting my need to be right override my desire to be truthful and happy, everything became easier. That one major shift in my life has led me to some of the greatest discoveries about myself, as well as others. It has allowed me to grow in directions that I never would have been able to experience if I hadn’t taken off that ego blindfold.
“The secret in achieving anything lies in the magic of the “Now.” When you want to change any aspect of your life and create a new one, you need to redirect your focus to the thoughts that reflect what it is that you want, versus thinking about what you don’t have. I know this may sound easy, but it takes continuous practice. Having a clear mindset and a positive and direct focus in the Now is the secret to achieving anything!”
Jaime Harkin, Features Director, In Touch Weekly magazine:
“There are infinite possibilities for our lives; a million roads we can take. I grew up in a fairly dysfunctional household. The worse things got at home, the worse I did at school. I was bright, but a C or D student at best. When my friends headed off to college I panicked and registered at the local community college. It was then that I began to make a shift. Getting my first A in an English Lit class bolstered me. I finally felt smart. I became an overachiever, transferred to a four-year school, graduated something-cum laude and quickly landed my dream job at a teen magazine. When I think about how things could have turned out for me had I not gone to college, had I not pushed through the challenge of working and going to school, I put my hand to my heart and thank the Universe for helping me. This is my greatest achievement—bettering my life. Saving myself. It’s not just about school or my career; I changed the course of things.
“I believe you get what you give. The more you give, the more you get. There are very few shortcuts. Hard work, pushing through, trying—I believe these things are always rewarded.”
Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life – Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.™ Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.
What have you accepted in your life that took time, physically or mentally?
I have accepted that the people who truly love me accept me for who I am, and wouldn’t want me to change to please them. That is unconditional love.
What do you appreciate about yourself and within your life?
I appreciate that I want to continually learn new things about myself, which in turn helps me appreciate something new in everyone every day.
What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What goals do you still have?
Watching my sons grow into independent, self-sufficient, creative young men has been one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences of my life. My goals for 2013 include growing my business to help even more teens become more confident, resilient, and self-reliant.
What is your not-so-perfect way? What imperfections and quirks create your Identity?
I need some things to be just so. And I know that drives some people crazy. The pillows on the bed should be a certain way; the toilet paper goes over the roll, not under; and Heaven forbid socks go into the laundry inside out. I know it’s a bit obsessive, but that’s what makes me, me!
How would you complete the phrase“ I Love My…?”
Family—My husband and two sons, Alex and Luke. They are the three people who, without a doubt, unconditionally love me for just being me.