The first day of classes was something I looked forward to every year. So when it was my first day as a freshman college student, I woke up earlier than usual and prepared longer than necessary. I was a newbie in a new school. My first class was at 8:30 a.m. I went to the classroom indicated in my registration form and waited for our professor to arrive. Everything was in order.

After a few minutes, my professor arrived and started to do a roll call alphabetically. The first letter of my surname was up but I did not hear mine. I felt like something was off, so I asked the person sitting next to me what class it was. “Spanish 11,” she said. That’s when I learned I was late for my French class. I read the room number in my registration form incorrectly.

Sometimes, we also have incorrect thoughts or “maling akala” when it comes to excellence. These misconceptions or myths overwhelm us and make excellence seem like a moving target or an unreachable goal.

Maling Akala #1:
Excellence is expensive.

We think that the only way we can be excellent with our studies is if we use a Pilot G-Tec pen, that our shoes have to be Nike, or else we fall short of the standard.

We can easily find quality in expensive products. Branded perfumes last longer than fake ones. Products with labels are fancier and more durable than knock-offs on the sidewalk. So we assume that to be excellent means to have expensive things.

Though excellence can be costly because of the amount of effort, consistency, and time needed to be exerted, it does not always have to cost so much money. Most of the time, excellent people are also the most creative ones. From what they have comes something extraordinary because they make the best out of it. So could you!

 

Maling Akala #2:
Excellence is only for smart people.

“It is easy for you to say that kasi dean’s lister ka!”

Many people discount themselves from being excellent because they are not the smartest ones in the room. In the same way, we sometimes think that we will never be excellent because we do not come from a certain school, course, or group of friends. We compare ourselves to others and end up falling short.

The truth is, excellence can be attained by anyone because it begins with a choice—something that you can make starting today.

 

Maling Akala #3:
Excellence is about perfection.

We often think that we need to have a perfect score before we can say that we are excellent in a subject.

Culture has shaped our way of thinking that if we don’t get a perfect score, then our performance is not excellent. So we work hard until we end up detesting what we do. But in reality, perfectionism is the enemy of progress because it cultivates the lie that when we do not reach our goal, we are not good enough. On the other hand, we may end up thinking there is no more need for improvement or growth when we’ve achieved our goal.

Because of perfectionism, people veer away from trying to attain excellence out of fear of failure. Sadly, we sometimes bring this same myth into our relationship with God.

We think that God is more interested in perfection than our personal relationship with Him. This gives birth to insecurity and the tiring pursuit of doing good works to attain a right standing before Him. In the name of fixing ourselves first before coming to God, we end up making things worse.

This is the very reason Jesus was sent to sacrifice Himself on the cross—we did not and could not get the perfect score because of our sins. This is what Jesus freed us from. Therefore, we can embrace excellence and be excellent not for the wrong reasons, but by this truth: We can because He enabled us.

So where should I start?

Grow in what you do.

The best reference to know that you are excelling is your previous self. Look back to how you have grown in certain areas of your life. Celebrate the growth and continue to grow. You are not failing if you are growing. If you make a mistake, learn from it and let it serve as a stepping stone to growth. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, but don’t intentionally commit one either.

God knows what you can and cannot do. Discover new things and develop new skills. Do ordinary things extraordinarily well because the essence of excellence is giving your best, not being the best. It is about matching your potential with practice.

All of us have a level of excellence that we can achieve. One beautiful thing about excellence is that it can be lived out by anyone. In pursuing and embracing excellence, our labor is never in vain. And the fruit of it?

Do you see any truly competent workers? They will serve kings rather than working for ordinary people.
Proverbs 22:29 (NLT)

More than ourselves, human kings, or the people we aspire to become, the one who is ultimately pleased when we grow and excel is the King of kings and the Lord of lords—Jesus Christ. After all, He is the One who gave His perfect score so that we can be made perfect as well.

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