Performancism

Posted by Chris Everett
February 19, 2015

This morning I was reading a new book I recently received as a gift.  The book, ONE WAY LOVE – Inexhaustible Grace For An Exhausted World by Tullian Tchivididjian.  His introduction is why it’s finding its way into this blog post.  And I quote:

A few years ago I read something astonishing.  Dr. Richard Leahy a prominent psychologist and anxiety specialist, was quoted as saying, “The average high school kid today has the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient in the early 1950s” (1)  It turns out the problem wasn’t limited to an age group.  In 2007, The New York Times reported that three in ten American women confess to taking sleeping pills before bed most nights. (2)  The numbers are so high and unprecedented that some are calling it an epidemic.

What I see more than anything else is an unquestioning embrace of performancism in all sectors of life. Performancism is the mindset that equates our identity and value directly to our performance and accomplishments.  Performancism casts achievement not as something we do or don’t do but as something we are or aren’t.  The colleges those teenagers eventually attend will be more than the place where they are educated –they will be the labels that define the students’ values as human beings in the eyes of their peers, their parents and themselves.  The money we earn, the cars we drive aren’t merely reflective of our occupation; they are reflective of us, period.  How we look, how intelligent we are, and what people think of us are more than descriptive; they are synonymous with our worth.  In the world of performancism, success equals life, and failure is tantamount to death.  This is the reason why people would rather end their lives than confess that they’ve lost their jobs or made a bad investment.

This is not to say that accomplishments are somehow bad, or even that they aren’t incredibly important.  It is simply to say that there is a difference between taking pride in what we do and worshiping it. When we worship at the altar of performance – and make no mistake, performancism is a form of worship – we spend our lives frantically propping up our image or reputations, trying to do it all – and do it all well – often at a cost to ourselves and those we love.  Life becomes a hamster wheel of endless earning and proving and maintenance and management and controlling, where all we can see is our own feet.  Performancism causes us to live in a constant state of anxiety, fear, and resentment until we end up heavily medicated, in the hospital, or just really, really unhappy.

So moms and dads, at EWS, we believe in the greatest happiness and success of your student.  One of the best College Planning Tools we have to replace performancism from the “College Selection Process” and replace it with peace of mind, is to provide your student with a Birkman analysis. For over 50 years, the Birkman Method® has been an industry leader in personality assessment assisting over 3.5 million participants with dialing into their hard wiring. Leading companies such as Procter & Gamble, Wal-Mart and NASA use the Birkman as well as Emory University, Colgate and the University of South Carolina. This multi-dimensional tool focuses on measuring usual behaviors, underlying needs, stress behaviors and interests to reveal multiple ingrained personality dimensions. This information combined with a student's academic profile directs the student in discovering best match, economically safe careers, the college majors that lead to those positions and the schools respected for these majors.

If a student can start college having chosen a major and career path confident their needs will be met, interests embraced and stresses avoided then the 4-year graduation rate sky rockets saving thousands in future tuition.

Students take the 45-minute online assessment in the comfort of their home. Once your Birkman and Academic Supplemental Questionnaire are complete, the Birkman consultants marry the two sets of information into best fit suggestions for your student. Families receive the full 56 page Birkman® results, the 24 page LEAP Fit 2 Flourish report that includes at least 5 best fit careers for exploration, majors leading to these careers, sampling of colleges (meeting the student's demographic requirements) respected for these majors.

It’s all about doing the steps in the right order to improve your students chances for success!  Find out more at our upcoming 2015 Conference:  Ready for Take-Off.       

Notes according to how they appear in the book ONE WAY LOVE – Inexhaustible Grace For An Exhausted World:

  1. Taylor Clark, Nerve: Poise Under Pressure, Serenity Under Stress, and the Brave New Science of Fear and Cool (New York: Little, Brown, 2011), 11
  2. Pamela Paul, Sleep Medication: Mother’s New Little Helper  (New York Times, 11/4/11, www.nytimes.com/2011/11/06/fashion/mothers-and-sleep-medication.html?pagewanted=all