Explore the philosophy behind the book
One of the most intelligent and wisest (two distinctly different things btw) people I know asked me to put in writing the core of my philosophy and how it relates to Every Day Excellence and my other writing. I think this is a great exercise, because as Dr. Jordan Peterson says writing helps sharpen your thinking, and it is probably important for people to see that I am not completely random but have an overarching mission as Nietzsche would mention as a unifying view of the world that focuses our energies and drives our decisions
For decades if you asked me what I did, I would respond “I help people.” I could expand on that (I help people clarify and achieve their goals and dreams in line with their feelings and philosophies), but the essence of it was that three-word phrase of “I help people.” It was and is completely accurate, but I think it is insufficient in that it explains my motivations and actions but did not get to the core of why I help people. That required many more years of thought and experience than describing the easily seen, because looking into the soul requires seeing with more than eyes.
Master Daniel Grant (Tae Kwon Do) and Herr Rudolph Doblin (cello) have informed my personality and work ethic in indescribable ways, building on the foundation laid by my parents. I’ve also been blessed to have a continuous stream of exceptional people in my life, who are incredible in their own ways whether Dr. John Stolk (The Royal Dutch Marines) or Glenn De Zeeuw (Northwestern Mutual) or Jim Gilbert (Nippertown). Constantly expanding my knowledge and my vision, pushing my writing (Becca Fisher, looking at you!), or physically (like Roofstomp and the rest of my running team Road Hazzahds does), or emotionally (my Muse and my hooligan kids and Dr. Grant Beth Tower and Athena) has become just a constant challenge to be better than myself, and that evolution will stop only when I stop breathing. For all of them and the others unmentioned I have to give thanks for making me adopt kaizen (continuous improvement) of myself as my default, even if at times I am “too much.”
So why am I like this?
“Excellence, as opposed to convenience.” JRRT
We live in a world that is becoming easier and easier in almost every way every day. We can Google and instantly find anything, get someone to do anything for us for a price, and have less and less material poverty as calories, processing power, and physical comforts have become cheaper and cheaper. Kids these days (insert grumpy old man voice) don’t know the responsibility of working on a farm, the effort of rolling down a window, or waiting for a roll of film to come back, or having to memorize a number. These all taught us lessons and skills (hard work, patience, mental acuity), and as we march along the path of progress we become enamored and addicted to ease and lose the work ethic and resiliency that made me who I am.
Excellence (arete) is a mindset that empowers rather than enables. It carries across all dimensions of our life, a cross functional skill set and will set that allows us to deal with hardships and happiness better. Excellence creates independence and opportunities while convenience ultimately creates dependence and weakness.
There are usually two choices in most situations: the easy choice or the right choice. The right choice is generally more difficult, requires sacrifice (of time, effort, deferring pleasure, current pain of working out or not having the donut, etc.) but yields a superior result and a better long-term outcome. The easy route tends to lead to the worse overall path, fewer good options for the future, and ultimately more pain (emphysema from smoking, heart issues from bad diet and lack of exercise, financial hardships from not saving, morally damaging situations, fractured relationships from avoiding the difficult discussions, etc.).
Convenience has a cost, and the cost compounds.
The two concepts (convenience and excellence) are almost always diametrically opposed. The harder way now leads to a better place than the easy route that is so attractive in the moment.
There is going to be pain no matter what (unless you are unnaturally lucky or live in your own private world untouched by reality), but the beautiful thing is you get to choose the pain: do the hard things now that callous your body, mind, and spirit so that difficult things become easier, or avoid them now and have the pain in the future with accumulated interest.
I choose the hard now.
I choose excellence. And I believe in my soul that everyone can choose to take this path now (even if you have been taking the easier one for a while) and start doing the harder things to be better, and have a brighter future (across multiple parameters) than the seductive alternative that most people opt for because of human nature and inertia.
Am I “too much”? Yes, yes I am for many people. You aren’t me, but you can still decide to be more than you are at the moment. And that is my core belief, my “die in the ditch” ideal: we can be better.
Excellence, as opposed to convenience.
Every Day Excellence, a better life by choice.