“Do you see a man who excels in his work?
He will stand before kings;
He will not stand before unknown men.” Proverbs 22:28
Excellence sometimes can be about making difficult choices, paying attention to details others consider nonsense or never even conceive; its that uniqueness! That is exactly what makes all the difference, it’s like that pinch of salt that perfects a well cooked meal – imagine the meal without this.
Some persons with certain capabilities, who ordinarily would have excelled, fall short of the mark due this need to soothe the ego, causing them to rush through things needlessly in the pursuit of the mundane things – praises, money etc, and spend needless energy plotting useless, selfish schemes out of envy. They eventually become obnoxious and contentious, and unless they change their ways, can never meet their full potential. It doesn’t matter what they think they have achieved, they could have been much greater.
When the night comes, the sun quietly goes away, when it rises in its full strength however, no one can behold it. That is excellence. Displaying capacity at the right time, for the right reasons, and not just putting up shows to get applauded by those who do not know any better.
The excellent man has hope, that tomorrow will be alright despite the odds, and this confers the necessary calm required to excel. As it is with the calm master artist who will never hasten his art unnecessarily, not least for applause of the many, but would rather await the approval of fellow masters of the art; so it is with the excellent man, who acknowledges only the excellent.
The excellent, are like roses in the desert, extremely beautiful even when all around them is parched.
There is this finish line I set for myself using a landmark, during my morning runs, it’s located uphill and of course always the most difficult part. I always push past that finish line, just enough to stand and look back at it, to be sure I did not fall short. That’s the little extra. It got me reflecting that those who excel must always give this little extra, no matter how tough things may seem.
The excellent are original, and they emit ideas and originality thus they feel secure. Those scheming against the excellent however are imitators, who do not know what they know or don’t know, and this confusion which they are very aware of irrespective of the facade they put up, means they are in perpetual insecurity and fear. I will end with what Socrates said about this in the excerpt below:
“And the excellence or beauty or truth of every structure, animate or inanimate, and of every action of man, is relative to the use for which nature or the artist has intended them.
Then the user of them must have the greatest experience of them, and he must indicate to the maker the good or bad qualities which develop themselves in use; for example, the flute-player will tell the flute-maker which of his flutes is satisfactory to the performer; he will tell him how he ought to make them, and the other will attend to his instructions?
The one knows and therefore speaks with authority about the goodness and badness of flutes, while the other, confiding in him, will do what he is told by him?
The instrument is the same, but about the excellence or badness of it the maker will only attain to a correct belief; and this he will gain from him who knows, by talking to him and being compelled to hear what he has to say, whereas the user will have knowledge?
But will the imitator have either? Will he know from use whether or no his drawing is correct or beautiful? or will he have right opinion from being compelled to associate with another who knows and gives him instructions about what he should draw?
Then he will no more have true opinion than he will have knowledge about the goodness or badness of his imitations?
I suppose not.
The imitative artist will be in a brilliant state of intelligence about his own creations?
Nay, very much the reverse.
And still he will go on imitating without knowing what makes a thing good or bad, and may be expected therefore to imitate only that which appears to be good to the ignorant multitude?
Thus far then we are pretty well agreed that the imitator has no knowledge worth mentioning of what he imitates.”
Excerpt From The Republic Plato
The Amateur Philosopher