April 24


Today's quotation:

We distinguish the excellent person from the common person by saying that the former is the one who makes great demands on him or herself, and the latter the one who makes no demands on him or herself.

Jose Ortega y Gasset

Today's Meditation:

There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a "common person," if that's what one wishes to be.  Many people don't feel the desire to excel, and they don't feel the need to make something "more" of themselves.  While such a lifestyle isn't one that most of us wish to follow, how can we criticize those who do wish to make that type of life for themselves, if that's what they wish?  In such a lifestyle, they certainly avoid many of the problems that other people face.

For the rest of us, though, we do have a desire for "excellence," however we choose to define it.  We have the desire to make something more of our lives than we currently have or are, and we have a need to achieve something that we see as special, something that contributes to the world on a certain level.  In order to do this, we have to make demands on ourselves--we have to work hard, we have to focus, we have to persist.

Culturally, though, we all see the effects of "grade inflation," which happens when someone who has done mediocre work is told that the work is exceptional.  The "C" paper is given an "A," thus rewarding average quality with the illusion of excellence.  We've blurred the line between exceptional and normal, high quality and mediocre quality, and sometimes it's hard to tell what truly is exceptional and what isn't.  Mediocre movies and books and songs go to the top of the charts, while high quality work often sells poorly.

All we can do, though, is look at ourselves and ask one very important question:   If I want my work to be exceptional, am I putting forth enough effort to make it so?  After all, our own work is the only work that we have any control over, and if we want to avoid allowing our lives to slip into "commonness," we have to be willing to work to keep them up at the levels we wish them to be at.

Questions to consider:

Why do some people wish to excel, while others don't care to do so?

How can we determine whether the quality of the work we're doing is excellent or common?

How much control do we have over the work others do?  Over their desire to work well or not?

For further thought:

My grandfather once told me that there are two kinds of people:  those who do the work and those who take the credit.  He told me to try to be in the first group; there was less competition there.

Indira Gandhi



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