I heard a long time ago that there are three types of people: apathetic, mediocre, and excellent. I would rather say there are two types: those who are striving for excellence and those who are not striving.

Of the folks striving for excellence, there are again two types: those doing it for themselves and those doing it for others.

Those striving for excellence for themselves are motivated by something like fame or power or acceptance, but those striving for excellence for the sake of others realize that their hard work, dedication, education, and persistence can make a real difference in helpingothersto grow.

Whatever your place in life, whatever your training or your role or your level, you most certainly have opportunity to apply effort for the sake of others.

Courage is Critical

I was standing on the edge of a cliff overlooking Crescent Lake on Orcas Island with three friends. Just a few moments earlier we were watching other people jump off and into the water far below. It looked fun and we were all excited about it. I can honestly say that I didn’t have the slightest reservation… until I got to the cliff’s edge that is. Sixty feet hadn’t sounded like that great a height a few minutes before, but as I looked over the edge, suddenly it looked so asinine. The survival parts of the brain do their best to talk a person out of things like this, and they were threatening to work on me. I was genuinely scared.

Matt had volunteered to jump first. He was talking big. He was ready to jump - so said Matt, but after a few paces and a few glances over the edge he said, “I’m not ready.” It was very disheartening. His former assuredness was about to convince me that it could be done, and his turn-about was deflating.

Jeremy (not me… another Jeremy) was watching the scene unfold. I don’t know if he was feeling deflated like me, but if he was he didn’t let it interfere with with what he did next - he made a subtle pronouncement, ran to the edge, and shoved off. We watched him hang for some time in the air and hit hard below. We also watching long enough for him to resurface and haloo like an animal. Exhiliration.

What happened in those few seconds was pretty big for me. Jeremy may not have felt courage, but he certainly acted courageously. And whether he meant to or not, he encouraged the rest of us - in the true sense of the word. He didn’t sit us down and fill our ears with a bunch of “you can do it”, “believe in yourself”, and “blah blah blah”. He just jumped.

So I jumped too. It was a long way to the water… long enough to think about the fact that I was still airborn… and then once more. Finally, I hit. It was no big deal really and I let out an involuntary shout after resurfacing too - partly because of the exhiliration and partly because my shin struck the bottom.

Then Matt jumped. And then Scotty jumped too.

That display of courage has been an inspiration to me ever since and my mind has applied it to many a situation - some much like jumping off a cliff and some not at all.