My wife Lisa is an amazing person and . . . . teacher. No, she does not work for a school or university. She lives and “teaches” the art of excellence.
What I mean by the art of excellence is both simple and powerful – When you want to do, have or learn something, seek out the best, only the best. In the long run, only good comes from this. On the flip side, you will avoid countless problems. When she wanted to learn ice dancing, she hired an Olympic champion. When she wanted to learn guitar, she hired a highly paid studio musician who toured with some of the biggest names in music. In other words, the best.
Years have gone by, I see the end result of what she meant and how she has lived. Her skill levels in the areas of interest have shot through the roof in a short amount of time. Now others seek her out.
I also continually see people, for example, seeking out the cheapest or most convenient health care. “I go to Dr. XYZ because he is 3 miles away” or “. . . because insurance covers this and I cannot afford anything else.” Never mind if s/he is a standout or is ideal for you and your situation. Priorities become confused. Convenience trumps excellence.
I recently had an experiences which reinforced the notion of living by the art of excellence. One of my closest friends, Jane is an absolutely wonderful person. I could not ask for a better individual in my life. She is also an exceptional teacher, albeit it an informal one as well. Cases in point.
I when to lunch with Jane a while ago. During the conversation, she shared an experience involving a job offer. To paraphrase, “I always used this type of job as a safety net. No more! I did not take it and am just going to go for it.”
How many times do we take the easy way out? Or more so, the “safe” way out, thus losing the art of excellence. I saw a split in the road and took the road most traveled, simply because it looked safe. Not exactly inspiring literature. Jane unknowingly handed me a mirror and asked in what areas of my life am I taking the road most traveled? It was not asked literally of course, but when you live by the art of excellence, when truth is spoken, I must listen. There really is no choice.
Bang. Right between the eyes. Lessons are powerful, sometimes not so easy.
Living by the Art of Excellence takes daily effort and awareness. Seek out the best, including the best in yourself with everything you do. No exceptions. No excuses. If it is far, set aside more time to drive. If it is expensive, cancel HBO.
Let me forward you. When you live by the art of excellence, there are those that will avoid you. The energy is too intense and the actions result in having to examine self. Not everyone is ready for this. Not everyone is willing to do this. As such, avoidance is the end result.
On the flip side, there are some that will gravitate to you, soaking in as much energy and information as possible. They are your friends for life, not to mention great teachers.
Vince Lombardi, the legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers said it best: The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.