In the words of today's 100 Hour Board quote, "We're more afraid of excellence than of failure."
Do you think that's true? Maybe I'm lying to myself, but I'm pretty sure that for me it's the opposite: the fear of failure is what keeps me from attaining excellence. What about you?
-Not Marianne Williamson
One of my deepest fears is of failing. That I'll fail the people who depend on me, my family, myself, and God. Kind of weirdly, though, this fear has motivated me to push myself hard, and to seek after things that challenge me. While this may sound positive (motivation to stretch my capabilities) the negativity comes in when I do fail, because I have a very difficult time forgiving myself. In this sense, I am deeply afraid of failing, yet I've never not gone after something because of this fear.
While I don't as directly relate to this quote as with a fear of failing, I still see truth to it. Admitting the possibility of excellence invites an obligation to rise to that level. It gives a responsibility to actually attain that potential. And while this may sound great on paper, oftentimes it seems as though the pursuit of excellence requires more work and discomfort than merely sticking with the status quo and mediocrity. So to me, this quote doesn't as much pertain to actual excellence, but to the pursuit of it.
For pretty much my whole life, people have tried to put me on a pedestal, and I always resisted. I didn't resist because I didn't think I was capable of being a leader; I resisted because being excellent comes with high expectations, and I just wanted people to treat me like I was normal for once.
Furthermore, if you keep striving for excellence, eventually you'll reach a point when things start getting hard. If you take it far enough, you can get to point where you just can't do it anymore, and the thought of finding out what your limits are can be scary.
I agree with Luciana below that excellence often requires courage, so maybe that is what the quote is getting at. I can also see it from Ento's perspective that excellence comes with it expectations, so maybe it's getting at that a little bit, too. But I'm with you on this one. This quote has never resonated with me, either. That's okay, we are all different.
I recently finished reading Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead, which touches on philosophical ideas similar to this. A central theme of the book is man's dependence on other men, and the exploration of how that dependency effectively weakens their sense of self.
The thing about excellence is that it forces you to stand alone, much of the time. To be excellent is to be new and innovative, which does imply a great deal of risk. If your invention or discovery doesn't live up to expectations, there's no one else behind whom you can stand. Even to succeed forces you into the limelight in a way through which you also stand alone, clearly differentiated from those around you. Whereas with failure, there will always be people to help and encourage you.
Of course, it's up to individual interpretation which is more frightening, standing apart or being complacent in dependency. Personally, I find excellence to be a frightening concept, because it implies a degree of responsibility that I don't feel mature enough to handle at this point in my life. Obviously failure doesn't sound like the best option either, but for some reason a life of weakness and mediocrity sounds like something I'd be able to handle better than being in the limelight and ultimately responsible for my own fate.
Hopefully that makes some sort of sense.
Dear not our Darkness,
I think that it's true that we all have more of a fear of excellence than we realize. Excellence, and a realization of what we're capable of, comes with a healthy dose of responsibility, similar to what Luciana and Sheebs said. I've often felt that weight, the knowledge that going above and beyond will bring an extra dose of responsibility, of courage. But I think the only reason that I'm afraid of responsibility is because I'm afraid of failure. Being responsible for something makes us responsible for it's failure as well. I don't really see why excellence would be something to be afraid of, unless it was motivated by our fear of failure, but that's also just me.
That's my two cents!
Keep it real,