I grew up in a time when kids were not celebrated for moving from one grade to the next. A time when you were divided into specific academic groups and true achievement was recognized and rewarded. Essentially, you knew what it meant to be excellent and had something to strive towards.
Helicopter, over indulgent, parents weren’t the norm and you didn’t get a medal for just showing up.
Nowadays, it seems that we celebrate just about anything—which means that nothing is really that special let alone excellent. We don’t want to hurt kid’s feelings by telling them that “passing” isn’t success. So, instead we pat them on the head and tell them to just “do better”. How can children “do better” when they have no idea what “better” is? And worse yet, what kinds of adults will these children turn into?
Children pay keen attention to the world and people around them. Ambition is a trait that is learned.
Society has gotten caught up with the media’s examples of what “excellence” is—which is generally categorized as excess and landing a reality TV show. I almost lost it yesterday when I heard that Barbara Walter’s 2012 list of fascinating people included Honey Boo Boo. Yes, of course I understand the difference between fascinating and excellence, but my God, what is the world coming to? Our culture has distorted what it means to be extraordinary and celebrated for the brilliance you bring to the world each day—instead of how much you can take and how quickly.
Achievement shouldn’t be rooted in how much you have but instead how much you give.
Excellence is being able to perform at a higher level for a long period of time–Jay-Z
Excellence is about bringing your best to everything that you do. It’s recognizing your gifts and talents and offering that to others to the best of your ability. Whether you are a teacher, musician, artist, or social advocate we are all capable of excellence—leaving it all on the mat and finishing a task with same intensity and focus we began with.
Over consumption isn’t the banner of excellence—sharing your light and love with the world is the brilliance that each of us can offer every day.
Every day is another day for us to challenge ourselves to be better students of the universe. Taking only as much as we give, treating others with respect, and constantly thirsting for knowledge.
Life is about reaching our highest potential and not settling for mediocrity.
When we continue to challenge ourselves—we exhibit the expectations we have for our children. When they see us settle, they will settle for passing instead of aspiring for excellence. So, let your life be their lesson!
If you haven’t already, check out Oprah’s Master Class series, the show is produced documentary style and showcases the Masters in journalism, music, art, poetry, advocacy–essentially the best and brightest. In this series they describe their paths to success. It’s brilliant!
Jay-Z defines what it means to be excellent as he continues to push the hip-hop genre to reach new realms. Check out his 24 minute documentary “Where I’m From” below.