“Only people who have got nowhere have time.
This way, they got farer than everybody else.”
Let’s pause for a moment. What does this quote trigger? Did we agree with the first part, in which having (too) much free time is equaled with a lack of success? Maybe we thought of our full schedules and of our desire for having more time for the beautiful things in life – which we never grant us because of the many obligations urging on us. Who wants to be successful has to perform!
What then triggers the second part of the quote?
Giovannino Guareschi, a journalist, caricaturist, and the author of the wonderfully trenchant narratives about “Don Camillo and Peppone” was masterly in revealing discrepancies and visualize them with a wink.
Humans as Factors
Performance is crucial. This precept has shaped us socially; for the most of us it has become their own view and an inner motivator. It urges us and causes us to consistently set ourselves new aims to be reached. Sometimes however, it lets us forget what really helps to shape our lives meaningfully: the people around us. In our pressure to perform humans are often regarded as obstacles on the road to success or as means helping to accomplish goals. If we cleave to this view however, we have already forgot, that all essential achievements, all outstanding performances, but also all joys in life in the first place are made possible by relationships. We are all changed by interaction with our fellow human beings, which in turn makes development happen. Entirely new aspects emerge. Never perceptible perspectives can only be adopted by these interdependent vigors. Someone who beholds humans as factors and thinks he/she is able to perform independently from others, is off the track. It’s not solitary decisions, but communication, empathy, and fascination, which help us on.
Competencies as key to Success?
Time management systems, which should help us to work more efficiently and to use our time even better, behold competency development as a prerequisite for effective time management and higher quality of life. But what exactly means competency? In management literature of the last decades this term has been used as a conglomeration of abilities, skills, and experiences, as preparedness to and results from actions, with a mingle of preconditions and consequences of behavior relevant for success. From an economic psychological point of view competencies are seen as holistic manifestations of practically relevant abilities. Thereby we are approaching the core of the meaning, which can also be found in ancient and timeless heritages of all cultures: Real personal effectiveness is not achieved by an endless perfection of one’s skills, but derives from a combination of prowess and disposition. Personal development and character building are the key to a meaningful life.
Success and Happiness
Does success make us happy? People who lead sober and simple lives often seem to us as exceptionally happy. This observation – together with Guareschi’s quote – could lead us to the assumption that true happiness can only be found in very ordinary circumstances. From close up however, this view is more often used as an excuse with which we, as members of highly developed meritocracies and prosperous societies, are justifying the fact that wealth is extremely disparately and injustly distributed. Contrary to this, findings of research on happiness indicate that material security and professional success are important factors for happiness. Why then are so few of us happy? Maybe we are much too often our own enemies. Before asking: “Am I doing it right?”, we should pose the question: “Am I doing the right thing?” Instead of getting lost in perfection we should lower our inflated expectations, see the big picture, and be flexible and willing to compromise. Timely relaxation and interesting discussions with others will allow us not only to work more effectively, but also to acknowledge important things.
Maybe then the achiever in us sometimes feels as if he/she has got nowhere. And still, we have got farer.
Covey, S. R., Merrill, A. R., & Merrill, R. R. (1995). First things first. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Hanisch, H. (2012). Soft Skills-Knigge 2100: Soziale Kompetenz, Persönlichkeit, Selbstmanagement. Norderstedt: Books on Demand GmbH.
Meyer, A.-M. (2004). Die Macht der Kürze: das 1×1 der Realität. Norderstedt: Books on Demand GmbH.
Schuler, H. (2006). Arbeits- und Anforderungsanalyse. Lehrbuch der Personalpsychologie, 2, 45-68. Göttingen: Hogrefe