X IS FOR EXCELLENCE
Elaine Doll-Dunn, Psy.D.

Bloom where you're planted.

Excellence. How is that defined? Different things to different people? I think it’s doing the best you can and being the best you can with what you have and where you are. It’s blooming where you’re planted. It’s taking your God-given gifts and honing them, refining them, and using them. It’s trusting that small increments of desired behavior will ultimately make a difference that counts. It’s knowing that you are destined for greatness and making it happen. My French grandfather was an opera singer. He instilled in us that whatever you can do, do well, and that you have an obligation to use whatever talents you are given, even when it isn’t comfortable or convenient or when you don’t feel like you’re the best. Just do it.

In the sports arena take the word “jock”. What does it mean? Well, I looked up the origin, we’re not goin’ there, but what has it come to mean? An athlete. Someone who attempts, and works at, and studies, and values, and celebrates some facet of physical activity. We are programmed to think of “jocks” as only those who make headlines (positively; some of our “jocks” would best be ignored for their off-court---and sometimes on-court---behavior). I submit that anyone who takes seriously the event/sport/activity of their choice, be granted “jock” status.

For example. I am a marathoner. I used to race marathons, then I ran marathons, now I do marathons. Irrefutable by the finish line clock, it is apparent that I have added two hours, over the 26 years, to my finish time. But I train just as hard, I work just as diligently, I put forth the same effort---age graded---that I did in those marathons in which I raced as in those I do. I am no less a “jock” than I was then, it just takes me longer to do the same job.

Our foremost male marathoner in Spearfish was talking to me after a marathon in Rapid City. He had finished in well under three hours, I in something over four. His very genuine and respectful remark to me was, “Elaine, I don’t know how you can run for four hours!” And he was sincere in his oblique praise. He really was impressed that I could run four hours! Now, if I had my ‘druthers’, I’d be a sleek, fast, 2:30 marathoner, but I am a sturdy, steady 5:00 marathoner…and I put forth the same effort the winners do, I just do it over time.
And so it is with all of us. We need to learn to value what we can do and quit comparing ourselves to those of greater talent. They have their gifts and we have ours. I don’t say I’m as awesome as Grete Waites, but I do say that I am doing the best I can do with what I have, where I am. And there is honor in that as well.
As I watch the finishers in the Deadwood Marathon, I am astonished and humbled both at the fleet of foot and at the tenacious of spirit. Both athletes, both jocks, all winners. Maybe we should revamp the terminology. Since the origin of “jock” is of male derivation, perhaps women who attempt physical excellence should be called “bras”. The connotation would be the same. Veni, vidi, vici. We came, we saw, we conquered; at whatever level.

I have particular admiration for a lady who is taking on the Deadwood Mickelson Trail Half-Marathon as her personal Mt Everest. As she challenges weight control, damaged knees, and a new venture, she faces Armageddon. Now that….is excellence. That is suspending current beliefs and reaching for the stars, that is modeling the true athlete. That is dreaming and daring and doing. That is the, “I can,” jock/bra, “just watch me” attitude. That is succeeding. And she will.

Go Donna.

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