The Importance of Excellence

John e. Peterson
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The Competitive Edge in Athletic Strength and Fitness

The Importance of Excellence

One of the things I’ve noticed in our society over the past couple of decades is the steady slip in our standards. Whether it is in the quality of work people do on the job, the quality of the education our children receive, or even the quality of our general manners and behavior toward others, too often excellence has been replaced by mediocrity. A “good enough” attitude has replaced “nothing but the best.”

Whoever said, “The enemy of best is good,” hit the nail on the head. In whatever goal you are pursuing, if you are not vigilant to keep on the cutting edge mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, YOU WILL GO THE OTHER WAY. There’s no two ways about it.

I remember a story that Joe Theismann, the great quarterback of the Washington Redskins, told about his final days on the grid iron. In his successful 12-year career, Theismann led the Redskins to two Super Bowl appearances, one a victory and one a loss. When a leg injury led to his 1985 retirement, Theismann held the record as the Redskin’s all-time leading passer. But in the final year or two of his career, his pursuit of excellence was replaced by something less. Theismann recalls what happened: “I got stagnant. I thought the team revolved around me. I should have known it was time to go when I didn’t care whether a pass hit Art Monk in the 8 or the 1 on his uniform. When we went back to the Super Bowl, my approach had changed. I was griping about the weather, my shoes, practice times, everything.”

Theismann added that what he wears on his fingers today reminds him of the difference between excellence and “good enough”: “Today I wear my two rings—the winner’s ring from Super Bowl XVII and the loser’s ring from Super Bowl XVIII. The difference in those two rings lies in applying oneself and not accepting anything but the best.”

If it’s true on the playing field, it’s even more true in our every day life. Here are a few “rules of thumb” that will help you apply excellence in every area of life:

Care more than others think is wise.
Risk more than others think is safe.
Dream more than others think is practical.
Expect more than others think is possible.
Strive more than others think is worthwhile.
Do more than others think is necessary.
Be more than others think is sufficient.

Think about it!—J.P.

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