THE PURSUIT OF EXCELLENCE – TED W. ENGSTROM
BY PAULO SÉRGIO GOMES
STRIVING FOR GREATNESS FROM THE INSIDE OUT
For many years along with his friend Ed Dayton,
Ted Engstrom, a former director of Youth for
Christ and World Vision, who passed away in
2006, traveled the world conducting two-day seminars
on time management. At the end of the first day of the
event, especially addressed to leaders and professionals,
the author concluded with a lecture entitled “The Pursuit
of Excellence”, a theme later developed and which gave
rise to this book.
Engstrom’s intention in addressing this issue concerns the “lower vision” that most people have about their life purpose, and the change of attitude required for each of us to reach their true potential, transcending and going far beyond mediocrity.
He begins by telling the story of the eagle, who was raised in a hennery, learning the habits of the chickens and not knowing how to fly. When faced with a majestic eagle flying over the skies, they would have told her that she would never be like her, forgetting this possibility and eventually dying to be a hen in the field. How many people, sometimes at an early age, are prescribed such an unjust fate? Are they cut short by the ambition to fly high, to fully use their gifts and abilities?
It was to reverse these shortminded ambitions created by us or imposed on us by others that Ted Engstrom predisposed himself to devote special care to this subject, describing in this little book basic concepts for changing the paradigm of resignation. From the first to the last page the author urges us to act, to change our attitude, and to find purpose in our actions, determined to achieve excellence.
The book focuses on adopting a new attitude, improving our competencies, setting goals, and ultimately staying focused on the target. Psychiatrist Ari Kiev, of Cornell University, in his short book Strategy for Daily Living, recommends: “Setting personal goals, and persisting to achieve them, is the key to success. The determination to stay in your quest is what will bring the quality of excellence. (…) The greatest satisfaction comes from pursuing (the goal) to reaching the target, not just reaching it. ”
However, Engstrom warns against the danger of narrowing our interest in a single purpose, pursuing a single goal without diversifying interests. Prioritize the projects that we want to see materialized, and take that goal one-on-one. He illustrates this point with the case of the Olympic swimmer John Naber, who worked several years to present himself in his best condition at the Montreal Games in 1976, having won 5 gold medals. Surprisingly, despite having achieved his goal, on his return home he fell into a deep depression for lack of (new) goals. He simply set his target, but only that.
The author devotes ample space to dissect the “diseases of attitude” – Indifference, Indecision, Doubt, Concern and Precaution in Excess; as well as suggestions for the “cure” of these diseases, and the most feared of all, which he calls the status quo, and which he translates from Latin as “the chaos in which our life is.”
Ted Engstrom uses a skillful communication to instruct us on the hidden potential in each one, appealing to the initiative itself to release the divine gifts and expose our qualities and talents to the service of others and the common good. It teaches us how to get out of the median where society has settled, making an impact on this generation and perpetuating a legacy for future generations. For this, we are compelled to adopt a set of qualities that will help in this process: personal discipline, vision, optimism, adventurism, courage, humility, humor, confidence, anger (in a good sense – eg against injustice and waste) patience and integrity.
With these ingredients, adopting a creative attitude and believing in this process of change and growth, will transform our lives into an example of excellence.