Monday, April 30, 2012

Thoughts that matter

What Happened to the Pursuit of Excellence?

By Mark Black

We live in a world of pursuits. As people we are always pursuing something. My question to you this week is “what are you pursuing, and most importantly, are they worth of being pursued?”

Most people are on an ongoing pursuit for stuff. Whether it’s the newest iPhone, the coolest car, or best handbag, we are always pursuing the next new, cool, shiny, thing that advertisers have skillfully convinced us that we need. Watch television for 60 minutes, and you will see on average, 12 minutes (or 20% of the overall time) of commercials for a variety of products. And with the advancements in target marketing, keyword analysis etc, those ads are increasingly more targeted to their viewers. It’s no wonder we are so easily convinced that we need the newest cell phone, car or revolutionary hair product.

There is nothing inherently wrong with material possessions. I’m not on a crusade to make you give up your things at all. It’s nice to have nice things, and within reason, I don’t think there is anything particularly wrong with that. The problem, is when the pursuit of stuff, takes the place of the pursuit of the “higher good” as Plato wrote.

Too often we are taken off course in life and convinced that we ought to be spending time pursuing things, or power, or greatness. Media has become such a powerful force in our society that it has moved beyond a mode of communication, to possibly the most influential force in our world. And in the world of media, nothing is more valued that your “15 minutes of fame”, hence the success of reality television and the onslaught of reality TV “stars” who are famous for no other reason than that they were on TV.

This week I want to encourage you to pursue the higher good. To remember that our attention should not be consumed with the pursuit of money, power, stuff, or fame, but rather of excellence. We should always be in the pursuit of becoming better, of continual improvement and getting closer to excellence.

This past week my family and I had the opportunity to go to Disney World. We had a great time and my 3 year old daughter was in heaven. But what struck me most about our time at Disney was how EVERYTHING with the Disney name on it, was an example of excellence. From the grounds that were impeccably clean, to the smile on the face of EVERY employee. The way they were able to usher and in and out tens of thousands of automobiles efficiently and safely, to the way every event took place exactly on time. The whole park was a lesson in the importance of pursuing excellence. The success of the Disney franchise (whether you like the company or not) is undeniable. And a great part of that success is due to their ongoing commitment to the pursuit of excellence.

The pursuit of excellence isn’t very “sexy” today, because it doesn’t have any immediate rewards. You can’t go out and buy excellence, and pursuing it with great effort does not guarantee success, fame or fortune, and so many aren’t very interested. But they should be.

The pursuit of excellence, the pursuit of becoming the best person that we can be in all areas of life, is what we were all put here to do. It is our mission and our purpose. If all we ever did was do our best to pursue excellence in our lives, the world would be a much better place. And let me be clear, excellence does not mean perfection. None of us will ever achieve that (only one person ever did that and those around him didn’t like him too much:) Excellence isn’t perfection, rather it’s doing our best, to do our best, all the time. It’s 100% effort… always. In all that we do. And thus it will look different for each person, and yet it applies equally to all of us. It’s a challenge we all should strive to live up to.

So go out and be more excellent this week. Be a better version of you this week than you were last week. If you do that every week of your life, you may never reach perfection, but you’ll be a whole lot closer to it than you were when you started, and you’ll most certainly have spent your time on this earth in a worthy pursuit!


I received this in a Wellness email that we receive at work on a weekly basis.

Mark has truly inspired me to go out & pursue excellence – the right kind of excellence!

I encourage all of you to do the same!


Sheila xox

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