December 29
If you want to stand out,
don't be different,
be outstanding.

Meredith West


Today's Meditation:

Oh, how I wish I could get my students to see the wisdom behind this statement!  Unfortunately, though, most of their role models in life have yet to see the wisdom here, and their role models are steeped in mediocrity, and they preach to the younger people the joys of laziness, the silliness of going all out when they can get by on the bare minimum, the desirability of not pushing themselves at all.  It's sad to watch, but it is what many, many young people are learning.

The very meaning of the word "outstanding" is completely obvious.  Yet I have many, many students who think that they should get an "A" on a paper just because they turned it in.  They think that turning in every assignment for a class should get them an "A," too.  And unfortunately, since so many of their peers don't turn in assignments and still get "C's," young people very often are rewarded with the highest grade for a minimal amount of work.  And thus begins a set of unrealistic expectations that they often carry into adulthood with them.

It's not always easy to be outstanding, especially when something doesn't come naturally to us.  Sometimes it's very frustrating to work hard to be outstanding at something when it obviously comes easily to others.  But it's not important how easily something comes to someone else, or how our peers are doing so little work or such a poor job--all that matters is the quality of the job that we do, on whatever we do.  And if we want to be outstanding in our field, then we have to do work that stands out.

Of course, not everything is worth the extra work.  We don't want or need to be outstanding at everything.  Hence Meredith's first three words:  "If you want."  And if you do wish to be outstanding, there really is only one way to become so:  by making sure that you stand out.

Questions to consider:

What do you consider to be outstanding?  In what things have you reached outstanding levels?  How does it feel to do so?

Why are so many people satisfied with doing the bare minimum to get by?  How does that help them?

In what things might you become outstanding if you were to increase the amount of effort that you give to them?

For further thought:

You can be very, very good at anything you do,
but excelling does take work.  In societies in which
we expect life to just fall into our laps somehow,
we've lost the respect for the value of developing
ourselves, but if we're going to excel, not just
succeed, we must develop ourselves past the
ordinary.  Reading a book a week on a topic of our
choice will make us one of the best-read people
in the field within a year.  Then you can solve
problems and devise ideas and plans much more
easily and effectively than if you never
had tried to develop your abilities.



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