Excelsior. It’s the official motto of the State of New York. It’s the name of several fine hotels around the globe. It’s a poem by Longfellow. It’s also the name of a ship in Star Trek, but I digress.
Excelsior is a Latin word. The translation is “ever upward.” Excelsior is an ideal that seems to have slipped by me for quite some time.
I used to strive to always be doing better. I didn’t like to settle for less than the best. I was, in many ways, a perfectionist. Somewhere in my college career, I learned that I could get by–and still pull off acceptable grades–with less effort. Sure, the quality of the work wasn’t the same as I had sought before, but the difference in the resulting grades was not that significant. Coasting by on the status quo became my m.o.
Coasting has worked for a while. But the thing with coasting is you never really get into a better situation than the present. You just keep going at the same level, or possibly a lower one. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but it is rather uninspiring–and disappointing as well.
I don’t know that any one thing has drawn my attention back to the idea of continuous improvement. i have been noticing a lot of mediocrity lately. From the Presidential elections to the work product of associates, it seems that there are many, many people who just aren’t giving their tasks everything they’ve got.
That’s when excelsior came to mind. It’s not just doing one job better. It’s doing every part of every job better than the day before. “Ever upward” is the call. Always seeking to improve is the goal. Honestly, I’ve just had enough with coasting.
Therefore, I will be seeking to live “ever upward.” I no longer want to settle for what will get me by. I want to be always improving, always learning, always doing better than has been done before. It’s won’t likely be easy, and I may need to reevaluate my goals at some point, but for now, my byline is Exclesior. What’s yours?
Ben Martin, who is increasingly convinced that his party is walking away from him, is Editor-In-Chief of THE FATHER LIFE. He lives with his wife and four children in the Rochester, NY, area.
Ben Martin is the CEO of THE FATHER LIFE. He lives with his wife and five children in the Rochester, NY, area.