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Excellence is the Common

SALT LAKE CITY -- As we begin a new year, we have the opportunity to reflect on our personal progress for continued improvement. Often it is the mundane and the routine that stands in the way of excellence. However, Booker T. Washington reminds us that, "excellence is to do common things in an uncommon way."

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "If a man is called to be a street-sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well."

Frequently, it is also these commonplace tasks that have the greatest positive effect on the lives of those around us. Charles Francis Adams, the grandson of the second president of the United States, was a successful lawyer, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. ambassador to Britain. Amidst his responsibilities, he had little time to spare. He did, however, keep a diary. One day he wrote, "Went fishing with my son today - a day wasted!"

On that same date, Charles's son, Brooks Adams, had printed in his own diary, "Went fishing with my father today - the most wonderful day of my life" (Scott Walker, in Daily Guideposts: 1994).

We must not fail to do the simple and easy things that God requires and thereby deny ourselves the great blessings that the Lord has promised to us individually, and to those in our sphere of influence. My prayer is that, in the coming year, we look for excellence in doing the routine and common things in completing tasks at home or in the Utah National Guard.