Why Leonardo winning an Oscar doesn’t matter
Just over a month ago, we saw the internet flooded with memes showing Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio finally winning an Academy Award. Social networks were flooded with links to his acceptance speech or congratulating him in tweets or status updates. Hundreds of articles were scattered across the world wide web in celebration of the 41 year old actor’s long awaited achievement.
On the side though, a couple of other articles started popping up that went along the lines of “ 20 other great actors who have yet to win an oscar!” or “5 actors who didn’t deserve their oscars” etc etc
These articles were actually bringing forward a deep seated paradigm in our culture today: Our culture’s addiction to recognizable awards and rewards. Whether it be an Oscar for Leo or a noddy badge for Johny in 2nd grade history class, we’ve all come across it at some or another point in our lives.
Now it is probably a system that works. And why? Because our brains are hard-wired to hunt down goals. The more specific, the better. So we go about setting tangible goals. A prestigious award. A promotion. A new house. A million bucks.
Yet somewhere along the way, we came to accept the concept of reward as the ultimate measure of who we are. The whole reason people became so passionate about Leo winning an Oscar was because they felt that he deserved it, that is, he needed to be validated by it and this is where we often misinterpret the idea of an external goal.
A goal, when set, is not meant to be the ultimate measure of success. The goal is simply an ends to meet. The whole point of the goal, is the means by which it is achieved.
Our priority should therefore not be on the goal itself, but on what it will take to achieve that goal. More importantly, on who we must become to see that goal realized.
It is not our goals that validate who we are, but our actions in obtaining those goals where we discover who we can be.
How many times have you reached your goal and thought to yourself after a while… is this it? Life seems to eventually go on.
This is where bestselling author Stephen Covey’s ideas of character vs personality comes into play. Personality is concerned with the short term, image driven idea of success. It promotes the goal as the ultimate be-all and end-all. Those who follow this paradigm are the ones who will do anything to achieve the goal, be it money, fame, power, significance … the list goes on.
There is however, a second group of individuals who chase character, with an emphasis on who they are and who they must become. Their priority is building a strong character that is deeply rooted in right values. These are the guys who aren’t burdened by whether they have received or achieved external rewards or not. Their purpose is in doing their best, in line with what is universally right. The irony is that it is often the latter who are more fulfilled at the end of the day, because they understand that external goals are temporary. Their motivation is internal.
Bearing this in mind, the whole focus of your goal shifts from the external reward to internal transformation and discovery, and in the end we often find that to be the underlying goal all along.
So the next time you want to achieve something, ask not what you are going to obtain at the end of your journey, but ask instead who you intend to become to reach your achievement. Who you are today is the only real goal that really matters.