Home » Philosophy » Accomplishment


What holds true for a community of people holds for us as individuals. Our ability to manifest our intention is determined by:

  • our understanding of the principles that control the behavior of the system we wish to influence,
  • our ability to formulate plans, and to use those plans to anticipate actual outcomes, and
  • our ability to take concrete actions to implement our goals.

We refine our judgment by evaluating the outcomes against our intentions. When we analyze ahead of time, we are better able to relate our experience to the point of failure: principle, plan, or implementation. As that skill evolves, we may say that we become more adult in our application of skills.

Achieving adulthood of this type is a difficult accomplishment. It requires a transition to a state of excellence, in which our personal energies are coupled effectively to an environment that responds to and manifests our will.

We describe individuals that achieve this level of skill as accomplished. They manifest physical, intellectual and spiritual grace: they use only the minimum number of motions, ideas and emotions necessary to accomplish their goals.

I experience delight in the presence of such skill and panache. This delight can be the delight of relief, such as when a parent realizes that a child is eating without distributing food around the room. It can be the delight of wholeness, as when we watch two newlyweds on honeymoon able, for perhaps the first time, to devote their attention and skills fully to the delight of one another.

Or it can be the delight of resolution – of seeing a difficult problem laid to rest by skilled practitioners under deft leadership. This marriage of accomplished individual(s) to worthy goal is recognized as an accomplishment.

As we advance, as individuals and as a society, we evolve an array of techniques for accomplishing our goals. Scientific inquiry is one, as is a mechanical tool. Force of personality is another, \as is financial management.

Given a goal, how do we choose the best technique? This is the essential problem of management.

In our discussion of science, programming and engineering, we tackled this analysis through analysis of the various goals, their embedding context, and the skills of the disciplines.

A large part of the goal of these early chapters is to clarify the applicability of the three paradigms of human intellectual endeavor. Each of the paradigms addresses a specific set of human goals, in an applicable context, and requires us to employ certain skills. Individuals will possess varying degrees of native capacity in each area, but I hope to describe general practices that can be used to focus the will to broaden and improve our skills.

In the process, I hope to demonstrate how self-accomplishment – our capacity to manage ourselves – is linked to accomplishment in the larger sense. While this might seem obvious, it should be remarked that our society has substituted energy – the capacity to entrain other people in our wake – with accomplishment. The looming consequence of this error is social disorder and dysfunction, and perhaps global ecological collapse.

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