Striving for Excellence

Striving for Excellence

Striving for Excellence

All my life I’ve sought to be good at whatever I set my mind to do. Competitive to the core, I consider myself a failure if I come in second.

My sister-in-law just groans and laughs when she plays games with me, especially any games that have to be played outside. Yard darts, horseshoes, badminton, cornhole, you name it, I will play until I win -- and it doesn’t matter how long it takes.

I tackle everything that way. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s my birth order. I’m the third child of six, the youngest girl, and the runt of the litter. All my brothers and sisters are taller than me. I don’t know if that’s what drives me or the fact that I’ve always had to work harder at everything in order to keep up with the bigger kids. Whatever the reason, trying harder has made me better.

And yes, while I still think coming in second is just the first loser, over the years, I’ve come to realize I can’t always win. There has to be a balance of winning and losing.

Coming in second, though, can be a driving force, especially since winning is so much sweeter when you lose first. Hard work is indeed its own reward. So, win or lose, I’m still going to keep trying until I succeed no matter how many times I have to lose.

It’s the same in my work life. I want everything I do to be the best. A substandard work product is just not acceptable to me. If I see an error I made three years ago, I still beat myself up about it. It weighs heavily on me until I can get past it. I’m harder on myself than anyone else ever is, but I just keep perfecting my craft. Experience wins out every time. The longer I work, the better I will become.

Although I am competitive both personally and professionally, I am never unkind and always a good sport. I win and lose the same. That’s the way I was raised. It was voiced over and over when I was growing up – a graceful loser becomes a grateful winner.

So, thanks mom and dad for raising me right! As Aristotle said,Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”

Smart guy that Aristotle.