Striving for greatness. Do you want to be excellent?

BY  Louis M. Morgner
May 9, 2021

Don’t we all want to be great? Greatness can take on different forms. Entrepreneurship, sports, social support. No matter what area makes you feel excited, greatness is what it takes. Striving for greatness is not easy, but there are principles that can guide our way.

Jack of all trades, master of none

When looking at young, talented people, one pattern that seems to appear is that many of them have a variety of different skills. I’m sure you know that one person that just seems to be decent at so many things. These people are generalists and have the gift of easily picking up new skills and topics. But is this really getting someone far?

Take a moment and think off a person you admire. A role model, that has achieved greatness throughout his life. People like Barack Obama, Peter Thiel or Christian Ronaldo. I’m sure there are many names that come to mind when thinking about excellence.

Is there something those high-achievers have in common? I believe so. From the qualities I’ve observed, one common pattern that seems to emerge is that every single one of them is excellent in one specific field.

Of course, such people are gifted and talented in many ways but if you think about what it takes to pursue excellence, it is usually the fact that those people have focused on one single thing.

You don’t want to be a jack of all trades but rather a master of one. Being excellent in one field can take you a long way. And everything else might eventually build on top of that.

How can I apply this to my life?

There is one lesson I conclude when thinking about the pursuit of excellence. Focus. This is what high-achievers seem to have in common. Unquestionable focus on one specific field.

Of course, you can be skilled at many things. Generalists are important and also unique in their way. But, for true excellence, you need to focus on one field. One subject. One trait. And then, be persistent. This is what it takes to excel at what you do. Commit to the fullest and don’t stop.

If I think about excellence, I need to admit that it is easier said than done. Personally, I don’t know what the one thing is, I want to pursue my entire life. I like experimenting. I like following my curiosity. I like learning new skills in different areas. But I keep reminding myself, that focus unleashes a power in yourself that has immense potential.

How can you find the one thing you want to focus on? I’m afraid I can’t reliably tell you since I’m not there yet. But what I try to do is to experiment, try out things and then adjust along the way. The process of achieving a goal like excellence matters as much as the goal itself.

You need to enjoy the process. The work along the way. This is what ultimately will keep you going even if you don’t feel like doing it. Remember, you can always adjust. The important part about it is: Keep learning from your past. Don’t make mistakes twice and regularly reflect on your progress.

A final remark

The pursuit of excellence is a lifelong journey. Simple principles can guide your way. Persistence, focus & passion are perhaps some of the underlying drivers for greatness. No matter what you do or want to achieve, remember the lessons and never stop learning.

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