Excellence in the New Year

Joe Still
1 min readDec 30, 2020

One of my colleagues, Daniel Lemay, recently wrote about his plan to make 2021 a Year of Creation. This post and discussion about it has inspired me to pick a theme for myself.

I recently finished reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. There were a number of big insights (SPOILER!) like the nature of Gumption or the duality of Classical and Romantic thinking. However, the theme of Quality throughout the book comes to a climax near the end of the book when the protagonist’s developing conception of Quality is finally understood to be synonymous with “Dharma” and “Virtue”!

> Quality! Virtue! Dharma! That is what the Sophists were teaching! Not ethical relativism. Not pristine “virtue.” But areté. Excellence. Dharma! Before the Church of Reason. Before substance. Before form. Before mind and matter. Before dialectic itself. Quality had been absolute. Those first teachers of the Western world were teaching Quality, and the medium they had chosen was that of rhetoric. He has been doing it right all along.

Excellence (Areté) is further clarified:

> Arête is a stretch of our best expression in all areas of life. It’s an expression of all that we’re capable of in terms of living life to our fullest.

So this next year I choose Excellence for the theme, rather Areté as I learned in that wonderful book. To ask myself if my choice will best serve excellence before making it.