Saturday, May 07, 2005


I was in the reading room a moment ago and I picked up a National Review from about a year ago (It has a real cool drawing of John Kerry in command of a sinking swift boat). I was reading through an article about by Jay Nordlinger on the Bobbie Jones movie. Recall Bobbie Jones was an amateur golfer that many figure was the greatest ever bar none (the impression I get is even Tiger is not as good as Bobbie).

Jay notes: in the movie Bobby said that all he wanted to be was normal; he viewed his greatness as a curse. Jay does not believe the real Bobbie Jones held this view.

When did the desire for greatness get beaten out of you? When we are young we all have bold dreams, we want to be the President, we want to be a famous movie star or singer etc. Then eventually most of us just want to pay the bills and watch American Idol.

This is one area of thought I am in harmony with Ayn Rand. She pointed out our education system is the scalpel that removes the desire for greatness (a greatnessectomy!) out of us. I think there is some truth to this. Think about it, what people were the most despised in your classes? The ones who excelled, not the ones who failed. God protect the students who did well at all classes and succeeded in other endeavors. Eventually most of us (even the strongest among us crave approval of our peers) buckle in and we be quiet even though we know the answer or suppress our desire to stand out from the rest.

This group-pressure is pervasive in our society as well. Think unions. Unions are notorious for crushing those who strive for excellence. Joe Sixpack hires onto a union shop, the piecerate at the shop is (for instance) 100 pieces/hour. Joe then cranks out 130/hour and earns a bonus, what happens, if he keeps up the good work and strives to improve he will get a visit from the union enforcers telling him to work less hard, to be mediocre, not great! Unions may help to improve the skills of a worker but when that worker starts to strive for greatness the enforcers come and put an end to that.

Other factors affect one's drive for excellence as well. Substance use/abuse. Don't kid yourself abusing drink or the use and abuse of other drugs does cut into your drive for excellence. I knew some people that despite their use of such things did pretty well. Eventually I came to wonder about what they could do if they did not use those substances. In myself, I noted an increase in my ambition and drive when I cut back on my drinking. Become the full self God intends for you and do not abuse drink or use "other substances".