April 19th 2006

copyright don oddy

~ lower expectations - higher standards ~

in search of excellence

In our world we all move to higher and higher personal standards. The pressure on everyone is greater as our society becomes more connected and aware of the possibilities in all aspects of life. We are driven to examine our lot, what we have, what we are entitled to and what we can achieve. We have notions like the American Dream, where anyone can become whatever they desire, the notion of equality and the notion that hard work is rewarded and valued. We lose sight of reality often, where a world driven mad with expectations fails to deliver. Our high expectations of ourselves and others is actually driving us to distraction. Our impossible high standards are forever causing not only disappointment, but bitter and long held resentments. These resentments are often vented at distant objects, leaders, organisations and failing fellowship and religious organisations. Worse we turn our attention to our own failings to meet standards and start a process which leads to ever increasing unhappiness with ourselves. We take out our feeling not only on ourselves, but on our near and dear, our families and friends, we seem driven to highs and get constant lows in return. We are dissatisfied and unfulfilled as a result. We have lost our search for excellence in bitter and low feelings. We are near lost to living to our ability and enjoying our lives as they are.

Our expectations are driven by a modern world where we play catch up with our neighbour, we compare our physical, emotional and material well being routinely and we wonder why we are never satisfied. Our benchmark for success is never constant, we have upwardly mobile standards and higher and higher expectations. We have lost our common touch and we have lost our way when we seek to achieve the very highest of standards and continually fall short of our marks.

For decades we have increased our connectivity to our modern world, we are fascinated by success and failure, in fact some make a virtue of failing and make themselves excel at the basest levels, this is a way round high standards and high expectations. By seeking the lowest expectation one can find ones own notoriety, outside the averages of society. Rogue achievers in being the worst, the bad apples, losers of highest magnitude. This is simply a result of excessive and unrealistic desire and expectations from a world as good as its occupants and not anywhere near as good as its dreams. We have a gap, discernable between our dreams and our reality which drives us to discontent, unless of course we find that one measure that satisfies and gives us our own credibility and credibility in the eyes of others…

In search of excellence drives us all. We realise that we need to be the best, it is part of our drive and part of our make up. We are all creatures driven by nature and natural selection. And we succeed not only as individuals, as part of a society which enables success and the rising expectations. High personal standards, high codes of practice, high needs to conform and fit in. No room for the average, no room for normal, we are driving and striving and wondering where it will end.

In search of excellence, performance driven, measured and quantified. We are held to account in our world by our society, our education, our work, our relationships, our appearance, our acceptability to ourselves and each other.

Media driven, we see every day in all parts of our life, ideals and idols, exemplars and examples of expectations met and high standards. We see others strive in narrow fields of endeavour, their work, their craft, their art and their appearance. We see each exemplar in their narrow confines, their high standards their high expectation. Often years and years of striving to meet this search for excellence becomes the benchmark of the ordinary man and woman in the street. And now we transfer our standards of excellence to our next generation, our inheritors of narrow winning streaks across this world.

We forget excellence is learned and honed, or maybe perfection of nature as we view appearance beauty and find admiration for stereotypical types. We want to be like what we admire, yet our fate is merely to emulate that which we perceive as perfect.

Film stars, models, actors, sport professionals, captains of industry set our benchmarks and as we strive, we see we never will hit those marks. We are never able to express or demonstrate our value and most of all have recognition to these dizzy heights. We are destined to be disappointed by our high standards and our high expectations. We are being driven mad all along the way in our modern society, the opportunity to fail grows ever greater the longer we maintain these unhelpful illusions as we search for excellence. We will never reach these impossible dreams and our own failure will be our personal measure.

To fill the void, we mask and hide our self contempt with indulgence, we become ever more consumer driven as we fill our internal gap. We under achieve and over compensate to fine some place of internal peace.

And the dreams continue as we keep our grip indulging in our dreams, we use imagination, we use admiration and we develop our cults of worship. As long as we can find our connection, we conform and integrate and participate in our search for excellence.

Have we lost sight of what life is all about, or just introduced a set of benchmarks we would be better discarding. Are we driven to ever greater excess in the pursuit of success? We need examine ourselves.

Our high expectations driven by what we see and hear. Our high standards, what we experience and desire. We have a recipe forever to consume more and more to satisfy our drives, and fill the gaps as we fail to achieve impossible dreams.

From infancy to the grave, our measure of success have continued to rise and never ever fill this gap in our lives. We are near always doomed and never see we make ourselves second best when we might be better served, making ourselves first class.

In search of excellence, the power perceived to change our world is most likely driving us all to unfulfilled lives expended and lost to time. We would well to rediscover our right expectations, our achievable lives and our real standards.

If ever we need a mental kick, we might reconsider our expectations and our standards. Our hang up and gaps are creations of our never ending struggle to be the best, when only a few might achieve the best and only for the briefest of times. For time kills excellence as surely as we move on as humanity. Our never ending development and quest for life.

We are already pre programmed to develop and grow, to become better, more effective and more skilled. By virtue of living our experience makes us better at whatever endeavour we follow, and more practiced by virtue of time.

Where should set our expectations and where are our standard determined? In our world we need take better care as we set out on our journey of life. If we measure and compare our lot to our fellows we will be forever tormented and left feeling short. And for the few who do achieve excellence the torment is complete as life dictates these dizzy heights are never maintained.

Our torment easily undone, where we decide our goals. We are confronted by life coaches, life skillers, media and the like who excel in their ignorance of excellent lives. For in search of excellence will be failure to achieve, no matter who and what we are. In search of excellence will blight us as surely achieving nothing, its the something we need for an excellent life.

Lower expectations and maintain high standards, we need to find our place where our world balances and our world works, or conflicts will arise. Lost to our ideals and lost to our feeling, driven by ideals and driven by feeling, extremes lead to extremism inside our own minds, and cause extreme measures as we surely can see. Our modern world complicit and explicit, undermines our well being, when driven to excellence and never making good what we are given.

We become ugly in our values and driven by belief, we lose our most precious assets and find become to blind to faith in ourselves most all, and fastened to fate.

Indeed held in the sway of fate and all it entails takes away our will to be successful in all walks of life. A sadness so moribund some will rebel and cause havoc amongst us as life takes its toll.

Our modern age, a wonder for all, is not so wonderful if excellence drives us to distraction. Find right measure and make good our standard and fulfil our potential as we live our lives, to our personal benchmarks and certainly not yours!

Make good our judgment and make for ourselves, don’t judge others and make their standards yours.