Have you put everything you had into something?
Have you tried as hard as you possibly could?
Have you run until you dropped?
Skied as fast as you possibly could, risking injury?
Decided to lift a weight you couldn’t conceive of lifting and done it?
Have you run sprints in the rain, alone?
Have you put your name and reputation on the line for all time?
Have you said no to things anyone would say yes to because the sacrifice was worth it?
Have you doubted everything you thought was right because your experience taught you things school never could have taught you?
Have you risked bankruptcy, friendships, jobs, your home?
Have you put yourself into the unknown so deep you didn’t know if you could get out? Have you found value in pain?
I’ve had periods where I reached about 50-75% on some of those questions—playing ultimate, finishing the PhD in physics, starting my first company. Even though I failed to reach the success of my peers in those areas—I don’t rank with even okay professional athletes, Einstein, or Ford—but I don’t regret trying despite the sacrifice. If I regret anything it’s not trying harder.
I think I’m getting there with teaching and coaching leadership and entrepreneurship. I plan to keep going though the route isn’t obvious. I know the world demands what I’ve discovered.
I have a lot of mediocrity even in the things I work hard on. I don’t count my marathons as striving for excellence. Coming in ten-thousandth place is hard to call excellent. It just puts me into the mix of people who try. The twice daily burpees, now also including other exercises are an interesting question. I’m not following Arnold, like many fitness people. My goal there is to set a baseline of physical and mental activity without distracting from my outward-facing projects. I think with each year that passes without missing one puts me closer. If you thought it was about fitness and building strength you might think my bar was too low. It’s about character for me.
Anyway, I don’t know how many people strive for excellence at anything ever. The culture around me seems more interested in following the path laid out for them by major institutions pleasurably and without much work. I hope you have more challenging peers or can find them in history. I want more challenging people in my life, who draw their reward from personal excellence.
How about you?
Have you striven for excellence?
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On initiative, leadership, the environment, and burpees