There are some things that just come without much effort. And then there are those things that just won’t come no matter how much we want them to. For many years, I wanted to learn Martial Arts. I was a high school athlete, then I was a young mother who worked full time, then I was a single mother of 3 who worked full time. I took a class on self defense and decided that I wanted to learn more. It was not easy to work it into my busy schedule, but I did. And on my journey over the next several years a spark ignited and I drove myself beyond mere competence.
For some reason, the push for excellence has been shoved out of the lexicon of our culture. We are more interested in inclusion and not leaving anyone behind than we are in pushing folks to exceed expectations and rise above mediocrity. When did it become a thing that one person’s drive for excellence insulted another’s self-esteem? When we decided that self-esteem was more important than excellence we ham-strung one another. Self-esteem never accomplished anything. Self-esteem, or feeling good about one’s self no matter what, leeched motivation right out of our culture. Why be motivated to excel when just being you and doing what you do was good enough?
Excellence doesn’t just happen. What a wonderful world it would be if it did! Excellence in anything requires hard work, sacrifice and determination. Sometimes no matter the determination and sacrifice, excellence remains out of reach. It is not an easy goal and not everyone will achieve it.
Excellence is defined as the fact or state of excelling…that implies an active state. It implies superiority or eminence and in that implication lies its detriment. In our current dominant culture, it is not acceptable to be “better than anyone else.” In fact Victimization is celebrated, which is about as opposite as one can get from excellence. It is OK to be a victim of circumstance, of systemic wrongs, of racism, of any number of real or made up wrongs. It is not OK to “set yourself above others”, which is implied in striving for excellence.
The problem with this is that victimization is a passive state, where things are happening to someone. A person cannot be in both a passive state and an active state at the same time. Light and darkness cannot co-exist in the same space. Noise and silence are opposites. Joy and complaining cannot co-exist in the same space. A passive state does not create anything, it does not move anything, it does not lift up anything. Think about it. How does anyone create anything in a passive state?
It is about time for us to step away from this passive state. No one is going to ride in on a white steed and rescue us from ourselves. We must rise up and take a deep breath. We must look at where we are and what we are doing and we must decide to do something else. We must become active. It must be OK once again to strive for Excellence. It must be OK again to create, to dig down deep and discover what is best and what is good and pursue it despite the odds against us.
The payout for achieving excellence in any pursuit is beyond any recompense for victimhood. Earning something or being given something? It’s not even a contest. What I have earned is mine, it cannot be taken away. What I have been given, well, its mine on loan, what is given can always be taken away.
Strive for excellence. Rise above the cacophony of noise and Be Legendary.