However, I have also come to realize that the bar is not set for true excellence in school. By true excellence, I mean reaching the point where one is considered exceptional. By definition the term exceptional implies exclusivity. If many people were able to achieve this level, then it would not be the exception. Setting this as the level of mastery within the school system would frustrate many of the students. Instead, we set a level that is achievable by many who apply themselves.
In the real world, however, things function differently. Average and even above average individuals all get lumped into a nameless and faceless group of workers within society. They earn average salaries, receive average levels of recognition and achieve average level accomplishments. Only exceptional individuals stand out. When you can do something that no one else (or very few) can do, people take notice.
In today’s information and technology age it is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve the level of exceptional. Anyone with access to the internet has the ability to self-publish literature, visual art, music or videos. This means that the population of individuals competing for the status of exceptional is greater than in the past. In addition, the amount of entertainment and leisure activities available are ever increasing. Time spent in these activities does not aid an individual in advancing to a state of exceptional achievement.
There are only 24 hours in each day. How we chose to spend those hours determines what we accomplish each day. As a musician, I need to balance my practice time with my personal walk with God, a full time job (public school music teacher), family time, time spent studying the art of recording/mixing, time spent with the other aspects of my ministry/business (blogs, videos, public relations, etc.) and time spent with the upkeep of my house/cars. I probably haven’t even listed everything here, but these were the first things that came to mind. It is impossible to be exceptional at all of the things I just listed. I would have to choose one (or two if I’m Superman) to focus on while maintaining the others as best as possible. How do you choose? I think this is another factor that separates exceptional people from the rest. They have an ability to focus on one thing and block out everything else. We see the aspect of their lives that is exceptional, but we don’t see the degree to which every other aspect suffers in order to achieve this exceptional status.
In the end, is it worth it? Is it better to be exceptional at one thing and negligent in every other area of your life, or competent at every aspect of your life. If I were going to strive to be exceptional, what aspect of my life would I focus on? That is a discussion for a different day (literally). This is a Monday (Music) blog, and I write another blog on Fridays (Real Life) that covers those topics.