This is a perfect topic for me to write about today. It’s a stunningly gorgeous day here in Houston, Texas, and I have to admit, I would rather be outside enjoying the day than sitting here typing away. Yet, I made a commitment to myself at the beginning of the year, when I started my blog, to draft a weekly post. I also committed to readers that I wouldn’t write unless I had something worthwhile to say. (That’s subjective on both ends, of course.)
For the past eight weeks or so I have been taking Alexander Technique lessons from Houston instructor Andrea Fedele to improve my posture so as to ultimately relieve some neck and back pain I have been experiencing. I plan to write a dedicated blog post about the Alexander Technique in a few weeks.
Today, however, I want to zero in on one aspect of Alexander that piqued my curiosity – the complementary concepts of end gaining and the means-whereby.
According to the website of Alexander Technique teacher Hilary King in the UK, “End gaining is the tendency we have to keep our mind and actions focused on an end result whilst losing sight of, and frequently at the expense of, the means-whereby the result is achieved. For instance, how many people push to the extreme in order to win a race or goal, or continue to write yet more pages when exhausted – and then tear a muscle or develop RSI, both of which may jeopardise their careers?”
King continues, “When we end gain, we habitually rush into or continue an activity, often in a driven manner, without due consideration of the means-whereby we are using in order to reach our goal. When we do this, we often ignore the warning signs that could draw our attention to the fact that a problem is developing but instead, continue towards our goal. This frequently results in conditions such as poor co-ordination, strains, injury and even illness.”
My father, R.B. “Buddy” Hyde, was a classic end gainer. In the Game of Life, he was hell-bent on getting to Millionaire Acres, as fast as possible, at whatever expense. I should say that for him, I don’t think it was about the money. I think he was trying to prove himself successful. When he was a boy, one of his eyes was put out by a stone from another boy’s slingshot, and he was fitted with a prosthetic eye. Shortly after the accident, his aunt remarked, “Poor Buddy. Now he’ll never amount to anything.” I think that was all it took for Buddy to decide, bullshit, he was going to be Somebody.
Throughout his career, really throughout his life, my father worked his butt off to be successful, at the expense of his physical and mental health and the quality of his relationships. He was overweight, smoked, was constantly stressed, diabetic, hypertensive, never exercised and took poor care of himself. But he was successful! When he suffered a massive stroke at the age of 55, he was Executive Vice President, next in line to be President of his company! He had made his first million and was tracking to build a sizeable retirement nest egg. But at what price?
This to me is a classic example of focusing entirely on the end gain. And my father’s end gain, or goal, is still questionable to me. In addition, he lost sight of the means-whereby he would become successful. And in the end, it cost him his life. I wonder, if he could do it all again, would he choose a different goal? Perhaps to have a long, healthy, peaceful and productive life?
For better or worse, our parents serve as our earliest and most profound role models. Growing up, I wanted some of that Buddy Hyde success. But fortunately, I was also able to see the price one pays for success.
My father, without knowing it, taught me a very, very valuable lesson, one that I hope to apply to my life and to pass along to my son and grandkids.
So here I sit, at my computer, hammering out a blog post, on this beautiful spring day, not because it’s bringing me joy (it is, a little), but because writing a weekly post was my goal, my end gain.
Maybe there’s a little bit of Buddy in me, after all.