“To be human, is not a fact, but a task.” – Soren Keirkegaard. Life is a continuous series of changes and challenges. Some people developed a capacity or a personality trait that allow them to navigate the complexity of life; while some struggle to change or are even resilient to changes. Mahoney once said that "many people do not change, or do not change much, because we are fundamentally conservative creatures. This is not our fault. It is our life form... we not only seek order, but we also need it. We are organized by systems of activities and are often very protective of our own patterns.” It is always tempting to stay within your comfort zone, rather than reaching out and steering towards a different direction. Others might see your actions as mistakes, as you attempt to do something different from the norms that have been carried and developed through generations.
There are two main ways to pursuit excellence, in my opinion. The first one, which my Asian parents have been telling me all my life, is to ‘improve’. In a sense that I should work in the existing framework and perform better. I do agree that it is a steady path to success, or at the very least, ‘improvement’. You can’t go wrong if you consider excellence in a linear spectrum, with one end ‘better’ and the other end ‘worse’, calibrated with the same set of values or patterns. Isn’t being ‘better’ or ‘worse’ a change then? I think not. It is simply a relativity. However, I’d say it is a steady way towards, excellence. As long as you step up a notch every time. Do bear in mind that the highest you could ever achieve is still within the existing framework. For instance, limited human capital and resources or even time constraints.
The second way is to innovate. Innovation, new initiatives, creativity, etc. All these sound very overused to me these days. What IS innovation? Simply adding new elements to pre-existing system is not a new initiative; improving pre-existing framework might be the first step to innovation, but still way far from that. People might challenge you when you break the rules, or when you deviate from the tradition that has been upheld for generations. However, since when did tradition become an obligation, or a fallback that prevents you from stepping out of the box. It is inevitable for people to judge and disagree with you. It is the discourse that pushes us in to achieving more and to learn from each other. What differentiates the resilience among us from the more fragile individuals is the caliber, or whether one has the courage to take that very first step. Once you have expanded or even transformed the existing framework, you have much more room and flexibility for higher order thinking. There is no easy path in life; only through powering and overcoming challenges and disputes can we grow and flourish. We should man up and face challenges, rather than gravitating towards avoidance and receding.
On the other hand, we should all keep an open mind; both to criticisms and to new ideas. Everyone has a different conception of the good. We aim to achieve different things in life. Some seek for stability, some seek for improvement, some seek to make an impact. Imposing your standards on others only shows your narrow-mindedness; whilst passivity only breeds mediocrity. After all, we are still wandering at the same place.