Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning.

Hesiod, 7th Century B.C.

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So what has changed?  Not much as to excellence.

If you seek excellence the path is the same.  Ah, but the obstacles are more, and more seductive.  Possessions.  Comforts.  “Acceptable” excuses.  Our acculturation to dependence.  The expectations of “entitlement.”  The notion that someone owes us something.  That I can want and get but give the cost to another.  Yes, government now makes us weaker.  Habituates us to be less than we are.  Takes our independence and teaches passivity – indeed prides itself on swelling its ranks with those who have learned life in the shadows, far away from excellence.

Of course, we help those in need and we should – but do we groom dependence and dampen any urge for excellence?  “If you have a business, you didn’t build it on your own.”  Order that U.S. Marines surrender their weapons in Yemen before leaving the country and the U.S. Embassy they guarded.  Not excellence.

If we do not strive for excellence, each of us, we are done – finished.

Look around you?  Who do you see that seeks excellence?  Who pays the personal price excellence demands?  Are you like them?  Are you one of them?  What do you demand of yourself?

If those around you are those who foster mediocrity, make new friends.  Be selective.  Begin with the most personal challenge.  Are you well-groomed?  Are your clothes clean?  Do you keep an orderly home?  Are you courteous?  Do you control your diet?  Maintain your weight?  Exercise?  Are you disciplined?  Can you spend time alone?  Can you resist “peer pressure?”  Do you place all your worth on physical things?  On pleasures?  Have you grown in maturity? Are you responsible?  A person who keeps his word?  Do you read?  How many books did you read last year?  Are you smarter than you were a year ago?  Is your life chaotic?  Are you loud in public places?  Do you observe others and the surroundings you find yourself in?  Do you live with dignity? Show genuine concern for others?

The gates of excellence are all around you.  Have you passed through them?  Any of them?

   The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.

Vince Lombardi

Shalom.

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