Posts Tagged ‘interests’

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?

Life’s too short…

January 17, 2006

There are so many things to do, so much to learn….I wish I could be like the people who find an interest and focus on it intensely and are always associated with it….but for me, everything is fascinating. Travelling to places near and far, I become interested in the history of a place and wish I could be in archaeology or a historian; when I look at kalyan‘s or yathin‘s photos, I would love to live all my life in the forests; when Arun Pai called me up this afternoon, I felt that I must go immediately on his walks and learn more about the city I live in and love; when I hear a good concert on the radio, I wish I were a better musician. I love languages, but real proficiency in many of those I know still eludes me. I wish I could learn at the speed of light…and retain that learning forever. I would love to be an artist, a writer, a musician, a counsellor (I find people of all types compellingly interesting) a good cook…. a sakala kalaa valli!

The Tiger Census seemed to fade out of probability when I realized that we should have reported at Nagarhole this morning…however, a call to the Asst Conservator of Forests has reassured us that even for 3 days, we will be welcome as volunteers, and we are now planning to go to Kabini on Wednesday. Since we are a little too soft for sleeping bags in the jungle, we would probably stay either at Kapila Resort or the Jungle Lodges Resort…the way the tiger census is being described, I don’t really think
we are going to see any tigers, though! We do hope it will be a good learning experience….

BTW it would be very funny if we did meet a tiger and it ate us up and people looked at the title of my last blog entry!


March 14, 2005

Rationally, I know that once I accept myself with my faults, I will be a much happier person, and others will not have the power to upset my equilibrium…and also, I will find it much easier to accept others, with their faults,too. But trying to do it is different from actually getting there….

Trying to find some activity that will take care of my SPARE time, and not time in the evenings and weekends that I like to spend with my spouse…not lucky so far! Most classes and courses are in the evenings and weekends…they are interesting too, sadly!

Enjoying the frequent travelling; I decided that as long as we have good health, and enough money, we must travel as much as we can. India is such a wonderful country, offering incredible variety to those who want to discover her. And a trip to the US seems to be in the offing, too…if we are going, we are going to travel around there, too!