HOW DO WE ATTAIN PERSONAL EXCELLENCE?
The answer is very slowly and one day at a time. I really think that life is a never ending journey of personal growth. We have peaks and valleys when some of our focus goes to satisfying our most base needs (food, shelter, sex, etc...); We have times when we are fearful, jealous, or full of guilt. We have time of physical and emotional pain.
But in those moments that we feel good and aren't focusing on crisis control, we are able to build. We build up our resilience so we can handle things better next time, we strengthen our emotional eactions, and we learn how to take better care of ourselves. And the better we take care of ourselves and the better we get at our emotional intelligence and maturity, the more moments of safety we have so that we can continue to grow. And in those building moments, we are able to build excellence. I likely compare this to Maslow's self-actualization.
What is excellence? Some call it perfection, some call it the best at a skill, and some just think of it as a general state o personal achievement. The dictionary definition is "the quality of being outstanding or extremely good".
My problem is that I like a lot of things and have a hard time focusing. I want to be an excellent pharmacist and master every subject. I want to be an excellent wife, mother, daughter, boss, and friend. want to be an elite runner. I want to be a writer. I want to accomplish great things, travel, and have great experiences. Don't we all?
But how do we get there? The more I meet, observe, and talk to people that excel in something, I realize that there are no overnight successes. s Kayla Itsines would say, "You can't put in 10% of an effort and expect 100% of an outcome". An Olympic athlete - one of the definitions of physical excellence - puts in hours and hours a day. They restrict their eating and sacrifice sleep and other fun events so that they can put in the work to train. What are you willing to give up to be excellent? It's not going to happen by sitting on your couch and observing others.
Someone very close to me has achieved excellence both physically as a professional athlete and intellectually in another profession. And this person puts in hours of research, reading, and practicing their technique. All these celebrity performers you see are rehearsing hours and hours a day. For every overnight success that you see, there are about 10,000 others working very hard. Even pop stars are starting to sing about the work it takes - Britney, Rihanna, and Iggy Azalea all have songs talking about the work it takes for them to be good at what they do.
So how do you buckle down and get it done?
If you want to be an excellent student, focus on one lecture at a time, one study session at a time, and one exam at a time. If you want to be an exceptional athlete, make your plan and focus on one training session at a time. Clean eating is one meal at a time. A good relationship is one interaction at a time, and a good pharmacist is one patient at a time - you get the picture.
Make your plan and stick to it when you don't feel like it
Kind of like New Year's Resolutions - you have a lot of motivation and momentum going in, but many times it goes away after a week or two. What helps for me is focusing on why I want something. Do I want to look good for an event? Do I want to have a great presentation or write a peer-reviewed article to get recognition in my field? Do I want to be an honor roll student? Always go back to your original goal because if it is something that you really want and are passionate about, then you will get out of bed when you don't feel like it and you will put in the work.
Mind over matter
A lot of my self-defeating behavior or low motivation starts in my head. I'm too tired, or I don't have time, or I can't can't can't. Well, there are no excuses. The person that I referenced above once said to me "you just do what you gotta do", when I was marveling at how he wasn't exhausted. That mantra will get you far. Don't even make it a choice - just do it.
Work, work, work
If you are a pharmacist, you didn't magically learn the name of all the drugs, their mechanisms of action, and their side effects - it took a great deal of studying and applying your knowledge for you to understand the pharmacology ehind medications. Of course, you can just get by in some areas, but if you want to be really good in your field, you have to study. The clinical pharmacists that I know all keep up with the current literature, they teach and precept students, they are involved in research, and they educate physicians and nurses. In the hospitals that I've worked in, the clinical pharmacists that were influential, respected, and the most knowledgeable were not the ones that just came in and "got by".
There will be many setbacks - don't quit. I think the quality of perseverance is one that sets apart the excellent from the mediocre, because there is no easy way to the top.
"When things go wrong as they sometimes will, when the roads your trudging seem all uphill; when the funds are low and the debts are high, when you want to smile but you have to sigh. When care is pressing you down a bit, rest if you must but don't you quit.
Success is just failure turned inside out, the silver lining on the cloud of doubt. And you never know how close you are, you may be near when it seems so far. So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit, it's when things seem worse that you must not quit."
Here and here are some more good articles on personal excellence.