The Pursuit Of Excellence
In this article, we continue the journey we began in The Pursuit Of Fitness, and explore the idea that there is a fundamental attitude that can improve our success not only in fitness, but in life.
We are always practicing something. The question is, what are we practicing? How? And, does it really matter?
How We Practice Matters
I contend that it matters a great deal; how we practice in large part determines the quality of our lives. I’m not talking about setting time aside for skill development (though this is important too). I’m talking about our very attitude and approach to how we live our lives.
“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.” Mahatma Ghandi
Here’s the crux of it: excellence.
Excellence knows no bounds. Excellence is not constrained to any one domain of life; a pursuit of excellence encompasses all of life, all of our activities. It is a fundamental attitude which, if pursued with mindfulness and perseverance, creates extraordinary possibilities and fulfillment in our lives.
Excellence And Exercise
An attitude of excellence is the foundation for safe, progressive training. Without a commitment to excellence, we will accept mediocre technique, and mediocre technique performed under load and over time is a recipe for structural damage and injury. A less obvious risk is that we will fail to pursue mastery of the fundamentals, and advance our progression faster than we should, reducing our effectiveness and exposing ourselves to more risk over time. It takes more focus to pursue virtuosity in basic exercise technique than it does to rush into advanced skills, and will yield greater benefits long-term.
Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying the basic fundamentals.Jim Rohn
As goal-getting activities, exercise and sport have no peers. They are the most direct, progressive, and reliable way to achieve physical goals. As such, these are powerful practices for building confidence and self-efficacy, which carry over into the rest of our lives. Thus, an exercise routine is extremely valuable as a keystone habit. Yet it can be more than that.
Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.Vince Lombardi
Excellence Beyond Exercise
When we think of exercise, we commonly think of it as a physical activity, constrained to physical goals and results. Rarely do we consider deeper benefits, which extend into the mental, emotional, and even spiritual dimensions.
The pursuit of excellence has been recognized through the ages as an inherently effective and valuable attitude for life, expressed beautifully in The Four Agreements as the agreement with yourself to “Always Do Your Best.” We cultivate humility as we realize our limits and the fact that our best, objectively, varies from moment to moment. An attitude of excellence motivates us to try a little harder, to do a little better; to learn, to progress and to grow. Our own experiences with challenge and failure, in this context, are not fundamentally negative; they are simply opportunities for learning and growth. At the same time, our striving through challenge provides us with empathy for the struggles of our brothers and sisters in the human family.
Always Do Your Best
To sum it up: the pursuit of excellence presents us with the opportunity to experience our best selves. It begets a commitment to lifelong learning and growth, and to always do our best. With this attitude, we create synergies between our fitness goals and our goals and fulfillment in every other area of our lives. It is only upon this foundation that we can build an extraordinary life.
Of course, the pursuit of a fitness goal begs the question: what is the best way to achieve this goal? There are certainly better ways and worse ways to pursue our goals, as measured by effectiveness, efficiency, and safety. Read on to see how this applies to your journey in the next article, Functional Fitness.