AND Celebrate Excellence in Its Many Forms

January 22nd, 2017

The Connecticut Women Huskies basketball team surpassed a record last week that no other basketball team, men’s or women’s, has ever surpassed. AND they then surpassed the record again in the next game. AND the major radio and television networks never covered the games, talking instead about the upcoming, not-yet-occurring men’s sporting events.

Are we afraid of excellence in this country? Do we prefer the come-from-behind victories where the best team is toppled by the underdog over the continuous wins of an excellent team? Why are the Cubs a feel-good team and their win deservedly celebrated for days when the number one women’s basketball team is pushed aside and not given the same attention?

I wonder sometimes if we are afraid of true excellence in our country. We encourage people to be their best and go after their best. And when they do and they succeed, we shift to the next celebrity or possible success story. Are those who work consistently and achieve sustained greatness, one win at a time, time after time, too much a reflection of what we might not be achieving in our own lives?

Are we bored by greatness when it is consistently so? Hmmm

On another note, the movie and book Hidden Figures tell the story of the African American women whose mathematical calculations for NASA successfully supported John Glenn’s orbits around the earth and put a man on the moon. These women did the work, and invented the mathematical approaches to do something that had never been done before. AND they were neither celebrated nor recognized at the time of their contribution.

Are we so attached to who we want to win and how we want them to win that we forget that there are winners all around us all the time? Are we incapable or just unwilling to see them? Are we so attached to a worldview of scarcity that we believe that if others become great, we become less great?

It’s time to recognize that when we admit that there is plenty of opportunity in this world for everyone we also acknowledge that one person’s or team’s greatness does not diminish another person’s greatness. There is enough in this world for everyone to excel and we have the opportunity to be inspired by, rather than threatened by, others’ greatness when we pause to recognize and celebrate their achievements. It’s about AND, rather than viewing winners as either-or.

We are a relatively young nation with much to learn. AND we might start by recognizing and celebrating excellence, in its many forms, over celebrity. Congratulations and thank you to the Connecticut Women Huskies for great basketball and inspired team-play. You show us what it means to win together.

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