“Don’t strive to be perfect. Strive for excellence.” — Victoria Principal
As Sean of Writer Dad says, “Life is better with the right words.” I have to agree. And sometimes one word really says it all. Recently, one of my most insightful mentors gave me just such a word. That word is … “Arete.”
In a nutshell, it’s “excellence.” And I am a fan of excellence in action. By choosing the path of Arete, while remembering that we’re human, fallible, and with feet of clay, we create an arena to be our best, in our own way.
Here is what Wikipedia says on Arete:
“Arete in its basic sense, means excellence of any kind. In its earliest appearance in Greek, this notion of excellence was ultimately bound up with the notion of the fulfillment of purpose or function: the act of living up to one’s full potential. Arete in ancient Greek culture was courage and strength in the face of adversity and it was to what all people aspired.”
Along those lines, I like these words from Philip James Bailey:
“We live in deeds, not years: In thoughts not breaths; In feelings, not in figures on a dial. We should count time by heart throbs. He most lives Who thinks most, feels the noblest, acts the best.”
Whenever I think of excellence, people like Bruce Lee, Tony Robbins, Edward de Bono, Guy Kawasaki, John Wooden, John Maxwell, Leonardo da Vinci, and Rick Kirschner come to mind. It’s people that push their own limits while helping the world see what’s possible.
I also think of Alik Levin, Bryan Thompson, Diggy, Donald Latumahina, Dragos Roua, Emma, Evelyn Lim, Farnoosh, Hilary Melton-Butcher, Ivana Sendecka, Jannie Funster, Jeff Fryling, Jimmy May, JK Allen, John deVadoss, Karl Staib, Lance Ekum, Lynn, Mark Curphey, Mark Rogers, Melody Fletcher, Michael Kropp, Mike Walker, Nadia, Patricia, Per Vonge Nielson, Rick Maguire, Rob White, Sandra, Scott Hanselman, Sibyl, Tina Su, Tobin Titus, Vered, and many others all around us. People who live life on their terms, live their values, and show others what’s possible. People of excellence are all around you. And what does Voltaire say? … “By appreciation, we make excellence in others our own property.”
“Excellence” has strength and the key to remember is that it’s a journey, not a destination. And it’s a journey of trials and triumphs.
If the call of Arete makes your soul sing, welcome the challenge to be YOUR best. Not to prove anything to anybody else, but do it for you. If that means being the best finger painter you can be, go for it. You are a lion, now let’s hear you roar.
Photo by Robert Bejil Photography.