Ruminating about responsibility, standards, expectations and excuses

I have a widget on my blog that automatically posts a new quote every day.

Today’s quote caught my attention for several reasons. Here it is below.

Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody expects of you. Never excuse yourself.Henry Ward Beecher 

First of all, I hold myself responsible to a higher standard. Always. In fact, sometimes I wish I could cut myself some slack because being responsible all the time is exhausting. Of course, I’m not saying that the alternative is to be irresponsible, but sometimes I secretly wish I did things in an ordinary way, rather than all the way. I think that’s why I sometimes feel that I’m not good enough. I have high standards for myself and everyone else, and there’s no way I would lower my standards, but I wonder if anybody really notices. Of course, that is not the point though sometimes a pat on the back or a bit of recognition could go a long way.

I started to write that I never excuse myself, but that is probably not true. I think sometimes I try to find excuses (I like to think of them as reasons) for why something didn’t work, but really they are just excuses to try to get myself off the hook. That is hard to admit, especially in a public forum like a blog, but I think I will only change that if I am honest with myself. So, I think what Henry Ward Beecher is trying to say, though living it is hard, is that we need to always have high standards regardless of what others expect of us. It’s really an agreement with myself and no one else. I think it’s also about putting forth my best effort, being honest and having integrity.

Something I need to keep in mind is not to push myself to an unattainable place that might set me up for failure. In order not to do this, I have to be honest with myself. I have to know my limits and what I’m capable of. And, I have to try no matter what. I have to be kind to myself. Then, I won’t have any reason or pretext to excuse myself for something I did or to shy away from challenges. It’s also about having self-confidence and feeling like I’m more than just good enough.

There is a lot to ponder in this two-line quote, more than appeared at first glance. What about you? How do you interpret the quote above?

Cross posted to Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life March Challenge, Day #25.

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