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Two Types of Excellence | Scott H Young

https://www.scotthyoung.com/blog/2020/08/10/excellence/

scotthyoung.com

Two Types of Excellence | Scott H Young
Is success more about being the best, or finding your own way? Nature offers a surprising analogy to how we think about excellence in our own lives.

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Types of excellence

Types of excellence

Excellence is worth pursuing more than money or status. However, the idea of excellence holds a subtle distinction.

  • Excellence can be considered as a universal standard. To get 99% is more excellent than 90%. We line up everything and measure them against a common yardstick.
  • Excellence can be thought of as a niche. The whale isn't better than a butterfly in a meaningful way. They need to follow different strategies to survive.

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The excellence you're trying to pursue

As a whole, our working lives are more like niches. There are numerous professions, but the path for success in many professions are extremely narrow.

The more defined a field, the narrower the relevant dimension of competition.

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Excellence: Different overall winning strategies

  • For big spaces, the problem is exploration. Finding the right combination of elements is more important than becoming the best in a single skill.
  • As the space shrinks down, the problem is optimization. Excellence here is about winning and outperforming the competition.

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The paradox of narrow paths

The path to any particular destination is narrow, but there are countless possible options to follow.

At a general level, there are many niches you can find success in. But once you find a particular route, competition rises, and you're forced to focus on a few essential criteria.

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Excellence: between general and specific

  • At a general level, you have your values. A Buddhist monk and Olympic athlete pursue entirely different philosophies of life. Here, excellence has the most variety. With your particular philosophy, you can explore other niches. You can have a family, career, house. You could still become a doctor or artist.
  • At a specific level, your options narrow further. This is true in your profession, hobbies, and side-pursuits. You aim to get better, and are committed to improving on a narrow set of criteria.

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Attitudes of excellence

There are different attitudes needed for excellence, but they depend on the pursuit. Diverse niches require exploration, creativity, and experimentation. But once you focus on a pursuit, you need a mind for efficiency and courage when you face competition.

Attitudes for each are very different, and the ability to recognise where you are is key. Being able to shift attitudes as your pursuits mature is also critical for excellence.

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