I’m Not Convinced That I Agree

What do you think? Do you agree?

It is a paradoxical but profoundly true and important principle of life that the most likely way to reach a goal is to be aiming not at that goal itself but at some more ambitious goal beyond it.

–Arnold Toynbee

Explore posts in the same categories: Humanities, Quotes

8 Comments on “I’m Not Convinced That I Agree”

  1. melanie Says:

    This is similar, but not the same at all, to a Zen archery concept – except that the Zen concept would eliminate the aim altogether to avoid being attached to the results!
    (Isn’t this like “a man’s reach should exceed his grasp”?)

  2. Antique Mommy Says:

    You don’t have to go too far out on a limb to agree with it, because in shooting above and beyond the goal, what really do you have to lose?

  3. Emy Says:

    I think I do agree. Most of the things I think of as goals don’t really end when you get to them. I want to lose 15 pounds…but I also want to keep that weight off once I get there. I wanted to bike 500 miles…but I’m not going to stop biking now that I’ve hit that. You want a healthy baby girl, but you also want to raise her into a successful adult. The latter things though, are too far to think of right now, so we set goals that are(*) intermediate goals, stepping stones for what to do next.

    * Are or should be…I think this is why “diets fail” – people focus on those 15 pounds, but never think about what to do after they’ve lost the weight.

  4. Kathryn Says:

    I just question the certainty with which he speaks, that the most likely way to reach a goal is to strive for a goal that exceeds it. I also am pondering the grasping-ness of the concept. The lesser goal deserves full-minded attention that it does not necessarily receive when one is looking beyond it. For intangible goals perhaps the statement is valid. But it also could be used by many regarding material goals, and it feeds into the “more is better” mindset that I think can be damaging.

  5. gerry rosser Says:

    Like all the pithy sayings and quotes which float around, this one is no more provable or disprovable than any other, as I see it.
    I think it would be impossible to develop meaningful statistics which would be probative on this.

  6. Liora Says:

    Seems like many times when I’ve done that, then I’ve probably been too ambitious, or unrealistic, and it’s easy to become discouraged or end up somewhere I didn’t even want to be.

    I think focus and persistence work. If two are combined, you reach the goal you set. If you’re looking beyond the goal or trying to “trick” yourself somehow, your unconscious mind isn’t that stupid. You’ve just skewed your focus and have lost sight of what you truly want.

    Maybe I’m wrong? Would like to see more thoughts on this.

  7. Chad Says:

    I disagree. It should read thus:

    “It is a paradoxical but profoundly true and important principle of life that the most likely way to reach a goal is to be aiming not at that goal itself but at some other completely unrelated yet adjacent goal.”

    I find this is especially true while firing a rifle.

  8. acm Says:

    heh, I sort of agree with Chad — I almost thought that’s where the quote was going! the best way to reach a goal is to set some, do your best to steer the boat between swells, and enjoy the ride. who knows what will wash across the hull?!

    🙂