While we may admire perseverance, we live in a society that celebrates achievement. Our heroes are the biggest, the best, the fastest. With great anticipation, we look forward to world cups, superbowls, gold medals, and breaking of records.

An error may arise in such a system as the outcome begins to overshadow endeavor, and ambition outweighs character.

We all have insecurities and issues of self-esteem to one degree or another. Things become dangerous when feelings of self-worth become tied to outer measures rather than inner value. Far too often we strive to fill our internal void by pulling things from the outside in.

With this focus, one can be pulled into extreme directions to obtain the alloclades, applause, and adoration of others to find a sense of validation all the while thinking that the end justifies the means.

Personal achievement, however great, may not be a good thing if the approach was self-centered, egotistic, immoral, dishonest, or ignoble.

As history has shown us time and time again outer achievement does not equate to inner satisfaction. Think of the high-achieving leaders, champions, or celebrities who fell from grace. Many of them went down the spiral of self-destruction because no matter what they achieved externally, their innerselves continued to feel empty. One could go so far as to say that the outer success tormented them on their inner search increasing the emptiness.

If we flip the equation and search for inner fulfillment, rather than outer achievement we will find the achievement of the greatest thing possible – equanimity. One who is equal in happiness and distress becomes a sage of steady mind. A steady mind is one of the greatest attainments in our times.

With a steady mind, one begins to feel the fullness of heart. In such a state rather than living from the outside in, the full heart overflows and one begins living from the inside out and one enters into authentic being.

Whatever the end, it may not justify the means. But the means, when noble, will justify any and all ends.

Published on Elephant Journal | November 26, 2021

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