Posts Tagged ‘goodness’

In defence of non-excellence

December 21, 2016

I read something, nearly every day, on the desirable quality of excellence. In whatever I do, I am told, I must strive to excel. I must hone my skills at that particular activity until I am excellent at it.

I want to present a heretical point of view. I don’t propound this point of view as applicable to everyone, or indeed, to anyone but myself. But it’s saved me a lot of tears, so sharing it.

I am interested in quite a lot of things, and have been lucky enough, in my life, to pursue many activities. Let me list them…academics, languages, music, art, writing, quizzing, theatre, photography, nature/wildlife, heritage and history, travel, getting groups of people together, teaching…and so the list goes.

Yes, indeed most of my interests are pursuits to which I’ve devoted a long time. I’ve tried to attain a reasonable proficiency in what I do.

But…I don’t feel the need to excel. And here’s why.

The margin between proficiency and excellence may often not be wide…but it can be very time-consuming indeed. And I have found that when I strive for excellence in one particular activity, I have to neglect several others.

So over the years, I’ve decided that I would rather have enough time to pursue these interests instead of setting some aside for excellence…in any case, I will not be able to achieve excellence in more than one or two fields.

Striving for excellence can also often be frustrating, with the sobering realization, after much time and effort has been spent, that my level is that of proficiency,and excellence will be beyond.

So..what is wrong in my being reasonably proficient at many activities, instead of always wanting to be the world’s best in anything? I will never, indeed, top the world in any field, because there are always going to be others who will be far better than I in that field.

More and more, as I age, I see the comfortable joy of being good at several things and enjoying doing all of them, rather than frustrate myself in trying to excel and still find that I am not much further up the ladder.

And I notice this in many people I see around me…that they are good, very good sometimes, in several things that they do…but they need not be earth-shakingly good at it!

I therefore adhere to my happy state of reasonable proficiency (and fairly high ignorance sometimes!) in my several interests, giving thanks for being able to enjoy all of them. Excellence in one field does not give me as much happiness as being good in several.

What are your thoughts on this?

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Correcting a mistake….

April 14, 2013

and I were having a conversation about the do’s and don’ts of telling someone that they are wrong.

I learnt how to correct someone, without making them feel small, from . I’d made a mistake (I can’t remember what it was). Instead of pointing out my mistake in her reply comment, which she so easily could have, she sent me an email, *suggesting* that I might be mistaken, and giving the correction.

I learnt this valuable lesson from her, and now I follow the same practice. And whenever I am corrected in public, and made to feel small, I thank . I try, when I correct someone, to say, “in my opinion” it may be x not y…or that *perhaps* its x not y… dictum sapienti sat est…a word to the wise is sufficient.

Prashanth said that when he was in college, one of his teachers made a statement that was wrong. He went later to the teachers’ room and talked to her about it, couching his correction in respectful terms. She later announced to the class that she had been mistaken, and that he’d set her right. Later, when he was in danger of failing the subject she was teaching, having forgotten the same solution, she helped himm and…he just about passed the exam!

It’s quick and easy to point out others’ mistakes. However, with a little effort, one can do so and yet retain the goodwill of the relationship.

I know several people (and I am thinking of one particular individual!) who will never praise, but is quick to point out mistakes…always in public! The irritation I feel in being corrected like this is often difficult to swallow…so, A…thank you for the valuable lesson! And PC…at 22, I think it was awesome that you didn’t use the correction as an opportunity to score off your teacher…that’s real good-heartedness and maturity.

One of those days….

December 29, 2008

Ran a temperature through yesterday evening,which prevented me from leaving on time for Chennai this morning; lousy argument with spouse; on arrival, very bad decision by spouse to go to Grand Sweets to pick up stuff.

Grand Sweets has become an awful travesty of what it once was. It took us an hour and twenty minutes to get something. That, perhaps, we were prepared for. But in the meanwhile, I ordered an “adai avial” and asked that not too much of oil should be poured on. The lady making it pulled a face but didn’t say anything…until a meek thAthA (grandfatherly person) behind me heard me, and made the same request.

The adai lady then tore into him. “What do you mean?” she yelled. “If all of you ask for adai without oil how am I to make it? It won’t cook properly!” Having had a bad day myself, I glared right back at her. “We are not asking for anything ‘extra’,”I said, “only to leave out something. It is such crap to say it is difficult for you.” She kept quiet after that…but harassed the old man by delaying the cooking of his adai on the griddle. But even after I got my adai, I waited..and waited…until the old man finally got his adai. I was quite mad with the lady.

Meanwhile, a gentleman (I use this term advisedly, read on and you will know why) accidentally brushed against both me and another young lady as he went past. I *know*, having had the contact, that it was truly accidental. The guy immediately started apologizing…but the young lady went up in smoke. She hit the guy across the face, and said she knew all about the Lotharios in India. “In America, we don’t behave like this,” she yelled.

Someone stepped in and asked her to keep her voice down and was berated for his trouble. “Who are you to interfere?” she asked loudly. “I suppose even touching a woman by chance is a sin,” said the “guilty” gentleman sadly. “But more than the fact that she slapped me like that, the fact that so many people around me are giving me dirty looks now hurts very much.” It was obvious that he was very miserable; he tore up his order coupon and went off.

Ah, Grand Sweets….spreads cheer and happiness everywhere.

We drove to my brother’s apartment building; this is the second time I am visiting since he died six months ago. And…..there is, right now, a hearse standing outside, someone has died in the ground floor apartment…..Will go later to find out who. My sis in law has still not come home so she will not know the news either….these things happen!

What a visit, it can only get better from now on. I wanted to go to a nice concert, but….

Good looks and goodness…

October 26, 2007

A comment from avinash_kj about barn owl being actually beautiful birds set me thinking…

So often, good-looking people are less than good, and good people are less than good-looking…

I recollect a Jane Austen sentence to the effect that “so often in this world, some people have goodness while others have all the appearance of it”.

Here’s a blurry pic that I took quickly out of a moving car, but I have kept it because it states a profound truth.

good looks get you everywhere

Look at the line in blue…Good looks get you everywhere, it says through the blur

It’s not only because the picture is so blurry that it brings tears to my eyes! We keep *saying* that looks don’t matter…but how often do we find the good-looking applicant being favoured over the others for a job, the better-looking baby being adopted…?