Growing up I was quite fortunate in that my parents could afford to give me their old cars when they purchased a new one, and pay for whatever maintenance was necessary to keep it running. I was grateful for this generosity and was happy to accept it, but it meant that I was 29 before I was able to responsibly purchase my first car.
I still vividly remember the night I got my car. I was slightly shaking with nervous excitement as I drove off the lot, because it simply didn’t feel real. All I had done was talk and sign a bunch of papers. How could I possible now own what for most is the most expensive item they own behind a house? It took awhile, but as I my belief in ownership grew, so did my sense of pride. This was a significant achievement, and one I could say – while still fully acknowledging all those who had helped me along the way – was mine.
Honest achievements are special because, unlike the car, they are immutable and cannot be lost or taken. Appreciation for achievements like these are under-emphasized in our culture, and done so to the detriment of all. Rather than trying to guide behavior solely through fear and consequences we should show others the long-term fulfillment that comes from striving for achievements with integrity.