“Don’t strive to be perfect. Strive for excellence.” — Victoria Principal
As a high-performance coach at Microsoft, I was introduced to the captivating concept of Arete: The Pursuit of Excellence, early in my journey.
My mentor painted a vivid picture, describing it as a beautiful garden in full bloom on a warm summer day – representing you at your very best.
What truly resonated with me was the idea of a pragmatic pursuit of excellence without the burden of perfection.
Arete offered a holistic approach, embracing all aspects of work and life, inspiring me to believe that greatness could be achieved through continuous growth and embracing your full potential.
Here I’ll walk you through the transformative power of Arete and uncover the path to reaching new heights of excellence in every area of your life.
What is Arete?
Arete is a Greek word that means “excellence” or “virtue.”
You can pronounce it like (AHR-uh-tey).
It was a central concept in ancient Greek philosophy and culture. The ancient Greeks believed that Arete was the highest good that humans could strive for.
Arete is not just about being good at something. It’s about being the best version of yourself that you can be. It’s about living your life to the fullest and fulfilling your potential.
Arete was an important concept that embodied the idea of striving for excellence in all areas of life, including personal character, physical ability, and intellectual pursuits.
Arete was often associated with the values of honor, courage, integrity, and excellence in all aspects of life.
Today, Arete is sometimes used as a term to describe the pursuit of excellence and the striving for personal growth and development.
Live Up to Your Full Potential
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.”
Living up to your full potential is at the heart of the concept of Arete, which signifies excellence in any form.
In its ancient Greek roots, Arete was intricately tied to fulfilling your purpose or function, the very act of reaching your highest capabilities and living a life of fulfillment.
In the context of ancient Greek culture, Arete encompassed not only the idea of excellence but also courage and strength in the face of challenges. It represented the aspiration of all individuals to embody these qualities and stand resilient in the face of adversity.
Arete beckons us to embrace our innate potential and strive for greatness in all endeavors, unleashing our true excellence and fortitude to thrive in the face of life’s trials.
By embodying this timeless philosophy, we chart a path towards fulfillment and transformation, making each moment an opportunity to live up to our fullest potential and leave a lasting impact on the world.
3 Key Components of Arete
There are three key components of Arete:
- Purpose: Arete is about having a sense of purpose in life. It’s about knowing what you’re good at and what you want to achieve.
- Efficacy: Arete is also about being effective. It’s about using your skills and talents to make a difference in the world.
- Bravery: Arete requires courage. It’s about facing your fears and overcoming challenges.
When you live with Arete, you feel fulfilled, motivated, and driven. You feel a sense of purpose and accomplishment.
You are connected to something greater than yourself.
Arete is the Pursuit of Excellence to Fulfill Your Purpose
At its core, Arete embodies the relentless pursuit of excellence, driven by the desire to fulfill your purpose and live up to your true potential.
It’s about knowing our direction and embarking on a journey to actualize what we can achieve.
With Arete, we approach this endeavor with competence, precision, and a deep commitment to doing what must be done, embracing the path to greatness in every step we take.
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.
Arete Requires Efficacy
Arete and personal effectiveness go hand in hand.
Arete is not just about being good at something. It’s also about being effective. This means using your skills and talents to make a difference in the world.
When you’re effective, you’re efficient. You make decisions that move you closer to your goals. You solve problems quickly and effectively. And you’re always looking for new challenges to conquer.
Effectiveness is a key component of Arete. It’s what allows you to live your life to the fullest and fulfill your potential.
Here are a few tips for becoming more effective:
- Set clear goals. What do you want to achieve in your life? Once you know your goals, you can start making decisions that will help you reach them.
- Break down your goals into smaller steps. This will make them seem less daunting and more achievable.
- Focus on the most important tasks first. Don’t waste time on things that aren’t a priority.
- Be organized and efficient. This will help you save time and energy.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you’re stuck, don’t be afraid to ask for help from others.
Effectiveness is a skill that can be learned and developed. The more you practice, the better you’ll become at it. So don’t be afraid to start small.
Here are some additional thoughts on effectiveness:
- Effectiveness is not about being perfect. It’s about making progress, even if it’s slow progress.
- Effectiveness is about being persistent. Don’t give up on your goals, even when things get tough.
- Effectiveness is about being adaptable. Be willing to change your plans as needed.
- Effectiveness is about being focused. Don’t let distractions sidetrack you from your goals.
Just take one step at a time, and you’ll be well on your way to living a life of Arete.
Arete Requires Bravery
The ancient Greeks believed that Arete was the highest good that humans could strive for.
But they also knew that the pursuit of Arete was no easy feat.
It would require courage and bravery to overcome the obstacles that would inevitably come your way.
Obstacles will come your way.
- Distractions will try to pull you away from your goals.
- Tempting diversions will try to lure you away from your purpose.
- Doubt and insecurities will try to convince you that you’re not good enough.
But with Arete, you would find the strength to persevere. You would stay the course amidst the challenges, unwavering in your commitment to greatness.
Arete is not about being fearless.
It’s about facing your fears and overcoming them. It’s about being brave enough to follow your dreams, even when they seem impossible.
When you live with Arete, you are not afraid to take risks. You are not afraid to fail. You are not afraid to be different.
You are simply afraid of not living your life to the fullest.
So if you’re looking to live a life of Arete, I encourage you to embrace your fear. Use it as fuel to drive you forward. And never give up on your dreams, no matter how daunting they may seem.
Here are some additional thoughts on the bravery of Arete:
- Arete is not about being perfect. It’s about being brave enough to try.
- Arete is about being willing to fail. Because failure is a part of learning and growth.
- Arete is about being persistent. Don’t give up on your dreams, no matter how long it takes.
- Arete is about being courageous. Be willing to stand up for what you believe in, even when it’s not popular.
Arete Inspires Virtue
Virtue refers to a set of moral and ethical qualities or principles that guide a person’s behavior and character.
It encompasses a range of positive traits such as integrity, honesty, kindness, courage, humility, and compassion.
Virtue is often seen as a reflection of a person’s inner goodness and the willingness to do what is right, even when faced with challenges or temptations.
It is a fundamental aspect of ethical philosophy and is valued in various cultures and belief systems as a cornerstone of leading a meaningful and virtuous life.
At the heart of Arete lies virtue, a profound aspect that completes the picture.
As we embark on the journey of becoming our best selves, driven by purpose and effectiveness, and fortified by bravery, we are firmly grounded in goodness.
Virtue stands as the bedrock, embodying the essence of both individual and collective greatness.
It calls us to consciously choose what is right, forging a path of living in alignment with what is considered good and virtuous that resonates with the very core of our being.
You seek to do what is right not only for yourself, but also for the greater good of others and society as a whole.
Arete is a Journey
Arete is not just about the destination. It’s also about the journey. It’s about the process of becoming the best version of yourself.
“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.
Excellence is like an ever-evolving tapestry, woven with the threads of strength and adaptability.
What sets it apart is its essence as a perpetual journey, not a finite destination, making the pursuit of excellence an all-encompassing and transformative experience.
This extraordinary journey is riddled with a myriad of challenges and glorious victories.
As we traverse its path, we encounter not only the trials that test our resolve but also the moments of triumph that showcase our true potential.
In these profound encounters, you come to understand that it is the very process of overcoming obstacles and learning from setbacks that fuels your growth and shapes your path to genuine greatness.
Embracing this wisdom allows you to savor the ever-unfolding chapters of your journey, where every twist and turn becomes an opportunity to refine your craft and soar to remarkable heights of excellence.
Here are some thoughts on how Arete helps you achieve a more meaningful path in life:
- Arete is not about being perfect. It’s about striving for excellence and never giving up on your dreams.
- Arete is about living in the present moment and making the most of every opportunity.
- Arete is about being kind and compassionate to others.
- Arete is about finding balance in your life and living in harmony with nature.
Make Excellence in Others Your Own Property
People of excellence are all around you.
It’s people that push their own limits while helping the world see what’s possible.
People who live life on their terms, live their values, and show others what’s possible.
And what does Voltaire say?
… “By appreciation, we make excellence in others our own property.”
In a very simple and pragmatic way, you can “stand on the shoulders of giants”, in your own, personal way.
How Can You Live with Arete?
So, how can you live with Arete?
Living with Arete is a transformative journey that requires mindful steps to unlock your full potential.
Here are some valuable tips to embrace this path of excellence:
- Self-awareness is key: Take the time to understand your strengths, weaknesses, and passions. Knowing what truly ignites your spirit will guide you towards a purpose-driven life.
- Set meaningful goals: Envision the impact you want to create and set clear, achievable goals for yourself. Having a roadmap will keep you focused and motivated on the journey ahead.
- Take decisive action: Dreams become reality through action. Don’t be afraid to take the first step and commit to consistent efforts to make your aspirations come true.
- Embrace bravery: Fear and doubt may try to hold you back, but facing them head-on with courage will propel you forward. Believe in yourself and your dreams, and don’t let setbacks deter you.
Remember, Arete is not an instant destination, but an ever-evolving expedition of growth and self-discovery.
As you persistently nurture your potential and remain committed to continuous improvement, a life of excellence will gradually unfold before you.
Embrace the challenges and the triumphs, for it is in this profound journey that you will discover the true essence of living with Arete.
Arete is a Dance of Destiny
Arete is a powerful concept that can help you unlock a life of more fulfilling and meaningful life.
Embracing its essence, you embark on an extraordinary journey, where the pursuit of excellence unfolds into the very fabric of your being.
With Arete as your guiding star, you traverse the landscape of self-discovery, delving into the depths of your strengths, passions, and aspirations. In this sacred introspection, you unveil the hidden treasures of your true potential and find purpose in every beat of your heart.
Armed with self-awareness and a vision of impact, you set sail towards your chosen horizons. Each step is a testament to your bravery, as you navigate the stormy seas of fear and doubt, recognizing that amidst these storms, a forge for your metamorphosis awaits.
In the pursuit of your dreams, you become an architect of your reality, crafting meaningful goals that resonate with the very essence of your being. With each milestone achieved, you glimpse the masterpiece that your life is becoming, painted with brushstrokes of passion, determination, and relentless effort.
As the days unfold, you learn to dance in harmony with the symphony of life, embracing both the crescendos of success and the softer notes of setbacks. For in these moments lies the sweet melody of growth, and it is through these notes that the melody of your life acquires depth and richness.
Arete weaves its magic, as your journey becomes a testament to resilience and unwavering belief in yourself. The pursuit of excellence is no longer an abstract concept; it is a living, breathing force within you, driving you towards greatness.
The road may be long and winding, but the pursuit of Arete is a lifelong affair, and therein lies the true beauty of its wisdom. With every sunrise, you are gifted the chance to embrace your potential with fresh perspective, to walk the path of excellence with fresh determination, and to draw ever closer to the highest version of yourself.
So, let Arete be your compass, guiding you through the labyrinth of life. Let it remind you that within your soul resides the seeds of greatness, waiting to blossom into a symphony of purpose and impact.
For Arete is not merely a concept; it is an invitation to a dance of destiny. Embrace it with all your heart, and you will awaken to a life of profound meaning, where each moment is an opportunity to live a life of excellence and significance.
Count Time by Heart Throbs
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.”
In the profound words of Philip James Bailey, time is not merely measured in years, breaths, or figures on a dial, but in the beating of our hearts.
Each heartbeat represents a moment of life lived to the fullest, defined not by the passing of minutes, but by the depth of our thoughts, the intensity of our feelings, and the virtuous actions we undertake.
Bailey’s insight reminds us that true living lies not in the quantity of years we accumulate, but in the quality of moments that stir our souls.
It is in the richness of our thoughts, the nobility of our emotions, and the goodness of our deeds that we truly come alive.
By embracing this perspective, we unlock the secret to a purposeful existence where mindful contemplation, heartfelt emotions, and compassionate actions become the essence of a life well-lived.
Do What Makes Your Soul Sing
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.
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