Danny Lama: Chase Your Own Carrot

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Dear Danny:

My wife and I went on a school tour for our son. The campus looked pretty nice to me, but afterward my wife dismissed it as a school for “high achievers.” But don’t we all want to be high achievers? Am I missing something?

—Probably Missing Something


Your question kinda reminds me of this time I helped a buddy move: Wow, there’s a lot for me to unpack here, man…

I don’t think your wife is anti-achievement. On the contrary, I suspect she knows the difference between a real achievement, and an achievement in name only. Unfortunately (for a huge number of reasons I won’t get into here) our society is littered with phony achievement traps.

There’s a reason so many of us don’t remember much of what we “learned” in school, and then we go on to spend our professional lives doing things that are almost entirely forgettable.

A lot of schools, public and private, are built around pushing kids toward fake achievements. “Jump for the biscuit, Billy!” Know what I mean? It’s completely extrinsic, man. Outside of yourself. Chase the carrot. Oh, and don’t get hit by the stick. Carrots and sticks, man.

The sad thing is, by the end of the process, these so-called high achievers are completely divorced from themselves and from their own intrinsic motivations. And if they’re divorced from themselves, what are they usually married to? Jobs that are completely driven by external rewards, especially money.

Midlife crisis hits these people pretty hard. They often feel like they wasted entire decades chasing other people’s carrots instead of their own.

Chase your own carrot, man.

↓ New inspirational Danny Lama stuff: cards, shirts, pillows, you name it, man.

Chase your own carrot

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