What is one quality about you that makes you stand out?

Excellence: a virtue, an ideal, a lifestyle. Excellence has not only come to embody myself; my actions, from their very core, induce excellence. A misconception exists that success is an indication of excellence—in fact, excellence is an indication of success. Excellence is a quantitative and qualitative measure of ability, evaluated against expectations, standards, and prior experiences. Character, athletics, academia, and societal interactions are all aspects of life in which excellence has become expected of me. Notwithstanding academic and athletic prosperity, my successes are not what make me excellent. What makes me excellent is my determination, ambition and courage employed in my feats of greatness. Mastery of the English language is not what makes me excellent: my endeavors to learn Spanish and Polish are. Being a contributing member of four state championship teams, does not make me exceptional, but the lessons learned during each triumph and how they have shaped me as a person do. The ability to play the piano, violin, and drums are merely the results, rather than components of my excellence; the hours spent practicing, honing my skills, illustrate the higher standard to which I hold myself.Despite enjoying numerous accomplishments, my excellence is derived from the trials and tribulations which came before them. He who succeeds without adversity is no greater than those who fail. To whom much is given, much is expected; excellence offers an odd paradox in which the successful are never satiated, the accomplished are forever ambitious, and the triumphant continuously transcend all expectation. Concurrently, the pursuit of excellence grants greater gain than simply excelling. Losing in the preliminary trials only to return and win the final heat of a hurdle race exemplifies this idea. Coming back from preseason injuries to block a field goal, catch a touchdown reception, second the team in tackles and set an example for teammates despite unyielding and debilitating cramps prove infinitely more important than the losing score on the scoreboard. By competing in all aspects of life, I not only set myself up to succeed, but I provide for the success of others. Leadership is the natural successor to excellence, and being captain of the track team cultivates this idea. By inspiring my teammates, the excellence I have come to expect is transferred to others. Most importantly, however, is the perception of excellence. When no effort is given, yet success is present, then excellence is still lacking; only when all effort is exhausted does triumph manifest itself, regardless of the outcome. Excellence, above all, is a mindset. Aspiring to do greater than the day before, run faster than the previous race, score higher than the past test, relax more than the prior rest, and ultimately, live today more than yesterday, ensures that life is not wasted, character is learned, knowledge manifested, and accomplishment earned. It is with this mindset that I awake each morning, auspiciously aspiring for fulfillment, yet retire each night with humble acceptance of my successes, preparing myself for the fruit of the next day’s conquests.

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