The Purpose of Results

“And the results are in! Taking first place is … “

How well many of us have learned to complete the work and then wait … for the grades, the ribbon, the score, the results. Then what? Well, pass judgment! If the results are positive, we can judge ourselves worthy, capable, talented. If the results are negative, we can judge ourselves as bad – or – blame the judges and consider them unqualified to do their work! Is taking first place truly the reason we participate in athletic competitions or perform on an instrument or enter a cooking contest? Do our finest artisans put all their energy into winning?

I don't think so. I have come to believe that if winning or doing well is my purpose, and I judge my work by the outcome, then I miss out on the real purpose of the work: to learn, to grow, to expand. Growth and skill development in any area (physical wellness, relationships, artistic talent, public speaking, …) is a (sometimes life-long) process and can be an amazing journey punctuated by events where our current state of experience is seen and perhaps evaluated by others.

If our focus is on good results, then our learning is aimed at doing well in their eyes. If our focus is on the journey, then our learning is aimed at developing skills, trying new methods, expanding in the ways that our unique experience is calling for. In the first case, we aren't really adding anything new to the world. We are working to create what “they” like. In the second case, we are infusing our development with the uniqueness that we are. The result has the potential for something glorious and new!

Why, then, do we compete and invite the judging? Why allow our work to be seen side-by-side the work of others? Perhaps the reasons are many but I'd like to offer a few thoughts on the purpose of results.

Scores, grades, comments given by the judges about our work when used wisely help us to grow. When we use these external opinions, side-by-side our own thoughts and opinions, our personal experience, we give ourselves an opportunity to learn. What might we learn?

  • Our preferences are the same – or different – from those of others
  • Even when we feel nervous and inadequate, the result may please or help another
  • To improve, we must work on “that” skill
  • A little less sugar and the pie would have just the right amount of tartness
  • With a slight tweak in the placement of our feet, we'd bat the ball out of the park
Having received the feedback, we can choose to modify our work to please others – or not! We can choose to further develop our skills, or decide that we are comfortable with our level of expertise.

What part of your life journey is overly focused on results?
Where are you ready to invite feedback and learn?
What doors have you slammed shut following “negative” results?
What is possible when you focus on the journey?

Continue reading “The Purpose of Results”

What is YOUR wisdom?