Nothing counted, unless labor, endurance or some other qualitative feat conferred meaning. Only then had we achieved something worth crowing over. Those entrenched in the Protestant Work Ethic would disdain as undeserved any gains handed over on a plate. Nor is there anything noteworthy in things easily completed by all.
But who undertakes anything of difficulty or effort without some kind of benefit to themselves?
Recognition in achievement is its own reward. Yet this runs foul of another aspect of Protestantism, whereby modesty is lauded above boastfulness. It makes receiving compliments very problematic concerning our own selves.
Yet it's permissible to receive praise for any riches or possessions made available through the hard work which led to our achievement. Acquisition became the socially accepted way for achievements to not only be acknowledged as praiseworthy, but for that praise to be comfortably received.
Today's Western society was built upon the tenets of Protestantism. Even those who proclaim themselves adherents of another religion, or else Atheists or otherwise secular, have been influenced by the culture in which they were raised. The values of the Protestant Work Ethic are still prevalent, particularly in regard to how we evaluate success and achievement.
If there is no apparent monetary gain, then we feel an even bigger compulsion to highlight problematic elements in whatever task was just completed. It's the only way we may lay claim to that unduly laden word 'achievement'.
Would you agree with John Matthews there?
It would explain why the word gained such an expanded definition over time, particularly after passing from Catholic French usage into Protestant English. The implication being that to elaborate further is merely piling more subjective meaning onto a word already over-burdened with such. We long since reached completion, within our remit answering - what is an achievement anyway?
It's time things were brought to a head.
I understand achievement. My Wizzley Fifty Article Challenge is now finished.