A co-worker of mine once warned me “beware of the person you may become.” I wasn’t by any means doing anything wrong, so don’t let that counsel change your impression of me. However, the idea that my actions today will escalate and snowball, forging either a respectable creature or a leviathan, haunts me. Aristotle said that “excellence is a habit.” Conversely, I could say that to achieve excellence, I need to practice good habits and that poor habits impede the quest for excellence. When I was given this recommendation though, I merely resolved that I needed to be the man today the man I want to be when I was fifty.
And what constitutes greatness anyways? Little things or big things? In my agenda to continually improve my being, how much can I change in a given year? If I cannot sustain my actions then I have not really accomplished much. I’m still excited that I can remember to floss every other morning (one of the great accomplishments of 2009).
I continue to struggle with what I perceive to be the ideal Paul, I attempt to keep three things in mind every day.
First, as Coach Wooden put it, “What [one] learns after [he’s] learned it all counts most of all.” I see this as a way of saying never stop learning. As an accountant I’ll testify that once I’m done learning, I must be a “finished good.” Hopefully, that means I wouldn’t be a finished good until I’m finished as in buried.
Second, be open-minded. It would be foolish to expect to improve one’s self without considering feedback from others. This advice must be taken with a grain of skepticism; discernment is needed to distinguish between those who look to exalt you and those who are trying to hold you back. Overall, if I enter every conversation knowing that I’m absolutely correct about everything I’ll be missing out on an opportunity to gain insights and perspectives I may not otherwise have. Continue reading Paul: A work in Progress