Pursuit of excellence can change the world

Burt Bucher - Assistant Professor of Art

Burt Bucher – Assistant Professor of Art

Burt Bucher

Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”

Excellence, as Aristotle understood it, was not a passive state or potential, it merely consisted of virtuous activity that strives to reach the highest ideal or goal. We all have the power to shape our futures regardless of our stations in life. We only need to invest our time and energy in the right places.

The word excellent is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as something possessing outstanding quality or superior merit; remarkably good. Admittedly, quality, goodness and merit all are subjective terms that are used to define the state of something…a thought, idea, object or relationship. The concept of quality and excellence are, however, in my opinion, universal among all cultures.

As an undergraduate student at Eastern Kentucky University I hadn’t fully realized that I was responsible for my success, not external factors out of my control. I blamed everyone around me – my parents, my instructors, my city, my state and my economic status for holding me back.

I viewed my school in a negative way because of my own insecurity about living in the same sleepy town, and my own inability to actualize my potential. What I eventually came to realize was that although I knew what I liked to do, I hadn’t actually set any goals or truly challenged myself to produce on a higher level. Part of this was that I hadn’t focused inward; I was using other students as a barometer for my success, not the real world standard.

When I embraced my passion, everything started to fall into place, but by this time I had squandered four years of my undergraduate education. Consequently, I spent an additional two years in school to develop my portfolio and the technical proficiency that I had lacked. Over the course of those two years all of my focus went into my area of study as well as any extra money I could muster. I had committed myself to the pursuit of excellence in my field and it paid dividends. I was later accepted to the graduate program at the University of Cincinnati, a top-25 institution in my field, with a full scholarship and graduate teaching position. I had set a goal, worked diligently toward it and saw it actualized.

Jim Kesinger, one of our students in the Art department, passed away recently. He was pursuing something in his life that he wasn’t allowed to see come to fruition. He had a goal and was pursuing it passionately regardless of external factors. At his funeral a passage was read from a book he was reading. Will, volition, desire, thirst to exist, to continue, to become more and more, is a tremendous force that moves whole lives, whole existence’s, that even moves the whole world. Let’s not forget that we can change the course of the world by being proactive and pursuing excellence. Life is too precious to watch it pass by.