Forget excellence, pursue success instead

“Something deep in the human heart breaks at the thought of a life of mediocrity.” ― C. S. Lewis 

I believe we should think less about excellence and more about personal fulfillment — a sense of achievement that’s balanced by wellness. Wellness in your body, mind, and soul. I also think that by striving for fulfillment, we might end up happier and more successful than ever before in our lives. At least, that’s the goal I set for myself and the advice I would like to share with you today. 

As you might have noticed in literature, in media, and most certainly in the common workplaces, mediocrity carries a negative connotation. Nobody wants to be merely mediocre. Excellence, on the other hand, has become an aspirational gold standard. To strive for excellence is to dodge mediocrity at all costs.  However, instead of excellence, we should focus on success. I see success everywhere, and it looks shiny and happy, and I always think to myself, “That looks nice. That should be me. That should be all of us.”  When I see people being successful and fulfilled, I can not stop wondering, how can I cultivate that much dedication and enthusiasm for what I do? How can I produce something that is graceful and beautiful? I’ve had many jobs, hobbies, and pursuits over the years, but none of them seemed to “stick” with me the way it had for others. Only now, I realize that I was looking for the wrong thing.  Sometimes, we get so invested in a certain outcome that we lose sight of why we even started it. It happened to me so many times, I had lost the vision and the sense of goal I had when I started. 

Sometimes, we can’t see the bigger picture anymore, and our passion and excitement fade away. 

When passion is no longer the fuel that drives us, chances are you won’t achieve excellence — and you won’t be fulfilled nor happy with the results.

However, success is also slippery, because not only is its definition different for everyone, it is also infused with notions of the goals we set for ourselves. Success has metrics. But to be honest, I’m also worried about pursuing excellence in general, because for me, it does not seem to guarantee success. Sometimes, they go together, but having one is no guarantee of the other. And so, the more I observe the world, the more firmly I believe that success and excellence are independent of each other. That is why I happen to think that excellence is not about things like being a decent person or producing high-quality work or doing healthy things to address flaws and problems you have or around the world. No, I think that the process we should have for excellence is actually about creating a new narrative around the concept itself.

 “Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” -Aristotle

So here is the question for you today, “What do you repeatedly do?”, eat bad food get drunk, hit the snooze button in the morning, complain, gossip, read mediocre content, and binge on Netflix. Or do you continually read to learn and expand your knowledge and skills? Do you give prayers of thanks and gratitude? Do you eat right, sleep well, and (mostly) refrain from bad behaviors and bad relationships? Because honestly, if we just think about what Aristotle said thousands of years ago, we are what we always do. The same is certainly true today. Moreover, if most people took a deep, brutally honest look at their life, they’d recognize one thing: 

Most of the time, most people don’t do what they should do.

When we repeatedly do wrong, silly, unhelpful things that don’t lead to a better life — things that keep us tired, sad, bored, lonely, and stuck, how can we hope for anything else? This unproductive behavior starts with small, simple habits that grow into an unproductive, unfulfilled life.  What’s the solution you’ll ask! I don’t know. But let’s think about it and figure it out altogether. Comment down below if you have any suggestions. At least, recognizing the truth is a large step forward and I am not going back.  

Or else, stay tuned for the next article “ the only way to truly to strive for excellence” about it!

With all my love, B

Photo by Anastasiia

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