We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
I had a challenge issued to me.
One I initially didn't think would be that daunting.
AVT Coach asked me to come up with a word, one word, that would be a beacon in this new year, a word that would guide and summarize the plans and dreams of the next earthly revolution around the sun.
She told me that her word would be 'abundance' and that Peggy at Middle Age Ramblings and McMGrad89 at So I Was Just Thinking would be chiming in as well.
"Okay," I thought. "I'll play along. I'll come up with a term that will inspire a little blogging poetry, a little inspiration, a little food for thought."
And there the little challenge sat, holding a cup of promise that I would get to it, that I would name it and sculpt it.
But it turned out to be not such a little challenge at all.
To take the hopes and vision for a precious year and to give it a name carries more weight than I would have thought. To find that one term, to search the heart, to commit to a term that will define your core, well....yikes.
Not to mention the possible difficulties that could arise as the fruit of such a defining moniker.
I tried a few appellations on for size, checked the fit, tried to determine if it was flattering. But no caption seemed to capture the hub of the heart, the scale of the summit for '09.
At least, no term came to mind that I really wanted to hear.
And after rattling around in the old psyche for a while, after a little prayer and thought, 2009's guiding word finally flashed across the knobby surface of my noggin.
The word was 'excellence'.
Simple in concept, heavy in practice, excellence demands focus and pruning.
Focus in capturing all the small details. To not just unload the dishwasher but to place everything just so. To not just run through the homeschool curriculum but to attend intentionally to the larger lesson. To not just be a pleasant enough spouse but to focus on my spouse. To bring a laser of focus to that which I have been called to do excellently.
And then the pruning. To pursue excellence strongly enough to accept that a few things done with great excellence will naturally mean a wide berth of things done with mediocrity will have to be edited. To deliberate and chose those things which will be done excellently and to free those things that could only be accomplished with half-an-eye to it. To be more passionate about quality than quantity of projects. To be courageous enough to do a handful of things well rather than an ocean of things halfway.
My present season in life has been a patchwork of fractured sleep, last-minute changes, spilled juice and surprise detours. This season has required great flexibility. But in the flexibility is the sneaking hiss of mediocrity. Just put it there, just make a decision, just turn the car around, just grab the fast food. Areas that I want to be excellent are often sacrificed on the altar of the immediate.
I don't want to live like that.
I don't want my kids to live like that.
I want them to understand quality and commitment and focus. I want them to take the time to form the cursive letter right and to find appropriate pride in it. I want them to see the difference between a towel on the floor and one folded nicely. I want them to understand the effort and love behind it.
And perhaps that's what excellence really means to me. Not an extended case of OCD, not an excuse to be overly controlling or clean or compulsive, but training the eye to see the beauty and effort and love that flows behind those things that are done well. The caliber of the care. The practice and persistance.
The duality of excellence fascinates. To carry passionate discipline. To bring the heart of an artist to the commitment of an athlete. To do the little things well and to do them over and over and over again. Passionate discipline.
The Octamom term for 2009.
So what is your word for the year? What torch will you place in the light house and allow to be your governor? Is it joy, peace, commitment, stillness, kindness, patience, aspire, mercy, laughter, let go, grow up? What will define your focus for the year? Leave your word in the comment box or write your own post about this topic and put your name and the url of that post in the Mister Linky's box below. Inspire us with your excellent insights!