Celebrating and Promoting Achievement

What is Human Achievement Day?

A principal activity of the Human Achievement Alliance is to create, promote, and involve all individuals in the United States and around the world in a Human Achievement Day.

We’ve chosen October 21 as the best date for this celebration. That is the anniversary of Thomas Edison’s invention of the first workable lightbulb. If we want more lightbulbs shining above our heads, symbolizing new human-enhancing ideas in our minds ready to be made real, then we should mark this date as Human Achievement Day. In The U.S, we have a Labor Day, Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving Day, and even an Earth Day. Other countries have their special days. So we should all unite and celebrating human achievements as well!

What are the goals and benefits of Human Achievement Day?

First, a Human Achievement Day would raise our consciousness about the incredible world in which we live—a world we often take for granted—and how it came about. Imagine students giving class reports on which inventors and innovations most improved their lives over the prior year, or explaining to their classmates the origins of the equipment in their classrooms.

Edison tested 6,000 filaments before finding one that kept the lightbulb glowing. He didn’t consider these 6,000 failures, but rather as successes in eliminated materials that didn’t work!

In 1906, a publishing company found temperature variations in its facility caused printing equipment to expand or contract subtly, making it difficult to keep the machines properly aligned for the multistage color printing process. Willis Carrier solved the company’s problem by inventing the air conditioner. It was later picked up by Depression-era movie theaters and stores to bring in customers. The air conditioner, of course, eventually brought comfort to all our homes.

We’re still living in the age of the communications and information revolution. Kids should reflect on how 50 years ago, computers were giant, costly mainframes used only by large, well-financed businesses, research centers, and governments. What technological breakthroughs, combined with the entrepreneurial visions and talents of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and many others led to the laptops and smartphones we all have today that, despite their small size, dwarf the power of their hulking ancestors, including the many banks of machines necessary to land humans on the Moon?

Imagine future students playing the “If not for” game

“If not for the nanotech material in a replacement kidney, my mom would spend more time—and money we don’t have—on a dialysis machine than with us.” “If not for his brain implant and artificial eyes, my dad would be blind.” “If not for the discovery of the nature of my illness by artificial intelligence, I’d still be sick.” “If not for the genetically engineered cells that cured my cancer, I’d be dead.”

Imagine students playing the “How can we make it happen?” game. What would it take to engineer the environment of Mars to make it suitable for human biology? Or, perhaps, what would it take to engineer human biology to make it suitable for the environment of Mars? Or, better still, what would it take to engineer the human genome so that we would not age and die? And these discussions would not be science fiction; instructors—perhaps interactive AIs!—help students anchor their aspiration in facts and actual science.

Second, Human Achievement Day would focus our minds on the foundations of achievement. We should recognize that wishing won’t make achievements come to be. We achieve great feats because we use our minds and reason to understand the natural world, our imaginations to see that a better world is possible, and we apply our knowledge toward entrepreneurial actions to create a better world. And our most awesome achievement is cultivated in ourselves the virtues of rationality, courage, discipline, fortitude, integrity, and independent judgment.

Achievement requires the liberty to act, a free-market system in which all individuals—an Edison, Carrier, Jobs, Gates—can pursue a vision without seeking permission from the government, their neighbors, or anyone else; though they are, of course, free to convince their neighbors to join them in promising enterprises, just as we at the Human Achievement Alliance are inviting you to be our partners in celebrating this special day!

Third, a Human Achievement Day could banish today’s cultural pessimism, nihilism, “Identity Politics,” “us against them” polarization, and outright hate and violence, replacing these with optimism, purpose, and unity in committing to creating the future world as it can and should be. Imagine celebrations in every city and town. Imagine fairs in local parks highlighting local enterprises. Imagine local media interviewing business folks and passersby about “What achievements of yours gave your life purpose and make you proud?”

Fourth, Human Achievement Day would help create a fundamental shift in the culture. Every participant would be a cultural entrepreneur, creating the values, priorities, assumptions, and expectations that that would reinforce the commitment to achievement.

This vision speaks to a broader understanding of “achievement,” because we’re all achievers, whether nurturing a child to maturity or business to profitability, writing a song, poem, business plan or dissertation, laying the bricks to a building, designing it, or arranging for its financing.

Today, exponential technology promises a tomorrow of unimagined prosperity, with our lives longer and healthier, and with opportunities to realize our every rational dream. But that future is endangered because of the failures of our schooling system to provide the learning and training individuals will need to create it and the failure of our doom saying culture to make us aware that such a future is even possible.

The Human Achievement Alliance is your for the ideas and materials to help you be a leader promoting and celebrating a Human Achievement Day. One of your achievements can be contacting us with your own ideas. Synergy between like-minded individuals always yields the best result.

It’s time to change all this and to institute a Human Achievement Day to nurture the achiever in all of us!

How You Can Participate!

Mark October 21 on your calendar! That’s the date Thomas Edison perfected the light bulb and the symbolic date we’ve picked to celebrate human achievement. Your efforts are essential for creating an achievement culture. You, as an individual, can help replace the pessimism, nihilism, and anger in today’s world with optimism, purpose, and joy in our creative efforts.

A human achievement culture would:

  • Value creative achievement and technological advances, and the virtues required to bring about such achievements: rationality, personal responsibility, independent judgment, integrity, and respect for others as they pursue their goals;
  • Give priority to goals that truly better the human condition, bestow on us longer, healthier, more prosperous lives, and give us the liberty to pursue our own dreams, partnering with others based on mutual consent;
  • Assume that each of us is capable of succeeding in life through our own efforts; and
  • Expect that opportunity will allow each of us to be happy, to flourish and prosper, and that there will be no end to progress.

So how can you mark human achievement day and help create an achievement culture?

  • 1

    Appreciate your achievements.

    Start with the achiever you know best: you! Before you can appreciate and celebrate the achievements of others and promote the achievement ethos in our culture, you need to do so in yourself. We are not talking about looking in the mirror and saying, “I’m great!” We’re talking about self-reflection, of looking inside yourself and taking stock.

    Take the morning to ask yourself, what are your greatest achievements in life? Are there recent achievements about which you are most proud? How did you do it? Since life is an ongoing process, are there aspirations and goals you wish to achieve and are still working towards? Where do you need to improve? Remember that answering this question might seem hard, but it an achievement to have the strength to ask it and to try to come up with an honest answer. Your greatest achievement is the creation of your own moral character!

  • 2

    Celebrate with family and friends.

    Sharing with others helps us all. Sharing doesn’t mean comparing, thinking, “I’m better than this person or haven’t accomplished as much as that person. We might say that it was a more difficult task to work long years to become a brain surgeon than to become a really good stock clerk in a store. But the achievement is something about you. You should be grateful for the brain surgeon. And the surgeon should be glad you do your job well. Achievement for you is to take joy in the achievement of others and not become envious or resentful of others. So have a sharing session, perhaps over a meal or at a restaurant as a celebration!

  • 3

    With the children.

    Kids might well take part in your family celebration. But kids are still growing, they have their lives ahead of them, and they need to appreciate the moral virtues it will take to reach their goals in life; indeed, they will probably still be formulating those goals. On Human Achievement Day, take stock with them of their goals. Talk through what it will actually take to reach various goals. Nurture in them the self-reflection they will need to always be evaluating their progress and, especially, an understanding that just as when they were toddlers, they feel many times before they could really walk, they might be unsteady and fall in their initial efforts, but that’s how they learn.

  • 4

    Your school.

    Here the possibilities are almost endless. If you are home-schooled or your kids are in certain private schools, you should have a lot of leeways to develop an imaginative approach to raising their consciousness about achievement. There are many books and learning materials for all ages that can help. The Tuttle Twins book series, especially “The Miraculous Pencil.” The Issit.org education initiative provides a wealth of materials!

    Or have teachers in a class direct the “How can we make it happen?” game. What would it take to engineer the environment of Mars to make it suitable for human biology? Or, perhaps, what would it take to engineer human biology to make it suitable for the environment of Mars? Or, better still, what would it take to engineer the human genome so that we would not age and die? And these discussions would not be science fiction; instructors—perhaps interactive AIs!—help students anchor their aspiration in facts and actual science.

  • 5

    Your business or place of employment.

    Each community has businesses set up or run by achievers. You probably work for one! Why not get together the employees for a consciousness-raising session?

  • 6

    Your community.

    Which groups do you belong to, or do you know in your community that might participate? Churches, civic groups? How about organizing a “Human Achievement Day” in your town square or park? Invite local businesses and groups to set up the table. Invite media. Make it a town celebration!

  • 7

    Your country.

    If you’re reading this, it’s probably because of Steven Jobs, Bill Gates, or the founders and achievers at Google, Facebook, or a long list of others.

  • 8

    Our world.

    Do you know how many achievers in other countries have contributed to the exponential revolution in America, or how many entrepreneurs in other countries have used American innovations to create their own achievements? Delve into that!