You are Born to Excel

Boy reaching for the stars
Photo: © Diana Johanna Velasquez / 123RF Stock Photo

Excellence is the high quality of performance and the exquisiteness of being that set the standard for generations to come. High quality is never an accident; it is always the fruit of superior goals, earnest effort, intelligent planning and skilful execution. It embodies the wisdom of many creative managers and the cumulative experience of many effective executives.

The drive for excellence is a human characteristic. Man is a poetical creature who adorns and embellishes everything he touches. This drive for excellence is based on the metaphysical truth that we are created in the image of God. The Bible says, “He has also set eternity in the hearts of men.” Robert Browning gave exquisite expression to this sublime truth. “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what is heaven for?” So, man has to reach out beyond his grasp into the great unknown of future possibilities. All human aspirations and achievements are articulate expressions of this human grasp, of this transcendent reach. Excellence exemplifies the insatiable spirit of the human heart and soul.

The exquisiteness of being is more a matter of moral and spiritual excellence than any material accomplishment. It accentuates the primariness of principle-centred life. Here noble and sublime character is the foundation of true greatness. The varied personality factors such as communication skills, charming manners, positive thinking, elegant appearance, though beneficial for success, are secondary traits. These are the props, not the foundation, of the edifice of a life of excellence. If our character is fundamentally flawed, marked by duplicity and insincerity, then, in the long run, we cannot live a life of excellence and effectiveness. Only basic goodness and sound, impeccable character gives lasting success. Secondary traits such as impressive personality, pleasant social manners, alone cannot sustain true excellence. Secondary traits alone have no permanent worth in long-term relationships. What is required is deep integrity and fundamental character strength. It is character that communicates most eloquently. As Emerson once put it: “What you are shouts so loudly in my ears I cannot hear what you say.”

The conquest of Mount Everest is excellence; the discovery of the law of gravity by Newton is excellence. The Taj Mahal is excellence exquisitely executed in white marble, a pearly tear drop on the cheek of time.

Every task is a signature of the person who performs it. Sign your work with exquisite excellence. Your true destiny is to become an island of excellence in a sea of mediocrity. You are born to excel. In this context, the words of John W. Gardner are very appropriate: “The society which scorns excellence in plumbing because plumbing is a humble activity, and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because philosophy is an exalted activity, will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.”

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Prof Dr John Mathews
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Prof Dr John Mathews

Prof Dr. John Mathews is a professor of English Literature and Philosophy. A motivational speaker and columnist, he is the author of The Wisdom & Power of Positive Living and An Encyclopaedic Treasury Of Positive Thoughts For Effective And Creative Living.