Monday, December 12, 2011

Excellence pursued...

"I believe in the pursuit of excellence; we can ask for nothing 
more than the individual’s greatest effort."

flickr CC image via DarrelBirkett

Excellence pursued is excellence. 

I believe that excellence in a finite state is not excellence. Once we believe there is no further direction toward an improved state, we have become less than excellent. 

as·ymp·tot·ic

  [as-im-tot-ik] 
adjective Mathematics .
1.
of or pertaining to an asymptote.
2.
(of a function) approaching a given value as an expression containing a variable tends to infinity.
3.
(of two functions) so defined that their ratio approachesunity as the independent variable approaches a limit orinfinity.
4.
(of a formula) becoming increasingly exact as a variable approaches a limit, usually infinity.
5.
coming into consideration as a variable approaches a limit,usually infinity: asymptotic property; asymptotic behavior.

 asymptotic. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved December 12, 2011, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/asymptotic

Excellence is an asymptotic concept. An athlete may be rewarded a gold medal for excellence, and then in the next race get dethroned as the gold medal score is beaten in the next race... once we think we've achieved excellence, we cease to be excellent.

In the special education environment I used to teach within, the benchmark for "excellence" was 80% of a goal achieved. Goals marked at 80% achieved would be replaced with a new goal. I always wondered what happened to pursuing the other 20%... and then I started to wonder if 100% was even good enough to be considered excellent. What if we simply stated that we will pursue measurable improvements to all goals, (whatever they may be,) understanding that they will never be mastered, but perhaps that the degree of focus on particular goals will change according to individual circumstances? This to me would be the unending pursuit of excellence.

Can we really every ask for anything more than the individual's greatest effort?


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