In 2012 a suspension bridge in China collapsed killing three people due to subpar construction materials. In 2013 a factory building caved in for the same reason, killing 1,127 workers. Even here in America we see costly mistakes, such as the pedestrian bridge at Miami’s International University that collapsed killing six people. Although human error can at times be at fault, cutting corners and using cheap materials is beyond criminal. One should never choose quantity over quality or speed over safety.
How often do we do that very thing in our own lives. Perhaps it starts in high school when we cram for an exam or wait until the last minute to complete an assignment. We get a somewhat decent grade and we settle. That then continues in our adulthood when we hit the snooze button one too many times and miss out on breakfast, or worse, get frantic with our kids so everyone gets out the door on time. It’s chaos, but we settle. We even do it in our marriages and with our health. We cut corners, we neglect necessities, and cheat our priorities and become survivors. We’re not happy or healthy but we settle. Well, al least until everything comes crashing down around us. The casualties of debt, divorce, and disease are a far too late wake up call in which the ripple effect shakes the very foundation of our world.
The reality staring us in the face is that we have settled for mediocrity. Excellence has always been within reach but we choose the easy way out. Spending is easier than saving. Ignoring the mounting tension seems simpler than going to counseling. Eating and drinking without moderation is more palatable than portion control. Relaxing and lounging around is painless compared to exercising. We settle.
Don’t misunderstand me here. Excellence doesn’t mean perfection or completion. Excellence is the quality of being outstanding, not flawless. What I referring to here with excellence is about putting forth our best effort. When we settle for less than giving our priorities our best efforts, we cheat our potential and everything that follows is built on an unstable foundation. Unfortunately we have fallen to the belief that you can have it all. Unfortunately there is not enough time, money, or energy in our human capacity for that to become a reality. Therefore, as Andy Stanley says, we choose to cheat in the direction of what we value and hold most dear.
So, take a moment to reflect on your current situation in life. Close your eyes perhaps and evaluate your priorities. Where have you been cheating and what does that reveal about what matters most to you? Is there an area in your life where you have been settling for mediocrity rather than pursuing the excellence that you know you can achieve? Why settle when you know there is more? What’s stopping you from living your best life?