Excellence vs. Success
I would suggest that you pursue a commitment to personal excellence, rather than success, based on your own God-given potential. Success and excellence are often competing ideals. Being successful does not necessarily mean you will be excellent, and being excellent does not necessarily mean you will be successful.
Success is attaining or achieving cultural goals, which elevates one’s importance in the society in which he lives. Excellence is the pursuit of quality in one’s work and effort, whether the culture recognizes it or not. I once asked Segovia how many hours a day he practiced. He responded, “Christopher, I practice two and a half hours in the morning and two and a half hours every afternoon.” I thought to myself, “If Segovia needs to practice five hours every day, how much more do I need to practice?”
Success seeks status, power, prestige, wealth, and privilege. Excellence is internal – seeking satisfaction in having done your best. Success is external – how you have done in comparison to others. Excellence is how you have done in relation to your own potential. For me, success seeks to please men, but excellence seeks to please God.
Success grants its rewards to a few, but is the dream of the multitudes. Excellence is available to all, but is accepted only by a few. Success engenders a fantasy and a compulsive groping for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Excellence brings us down to reality with a deep gratitude for the promise of joy when we do our best. Excellence cultivates principles, character, and integrity. Success may be cheap, and you can take shortcuts to get there. You will pay the full price for excellence; it is never discounted. Excellence will always cost you everything, but it is the most lasting and rewarding ideal.
— Christopher Parkening