An Arête Journey – Living One’s Excellence, not Others’.

“Comparison is the death of joy” – Mark Twain.

It is not hard to find someone around you who is always on the lookout for someone or something to compare with. Sometimes they win and they enjoyed a momentary joy. But eventually, no one wins.

Easier said than done. Many of us are brought up in a very competitive environment (thank you capitalism!), where we often want to outdo others in the things we do, or the possessions we have. Sometimes it’s just envy. Given the constant requirement in growth of GDPs, we noticed an increasing number of depression cases with the World-Health Organization (WHO) predicting depression as the 2nd leading cause of disease by 2020. Does that mean we should all sit back, relax and wait for things to happen?

Arête – The Quest for Excellence

What is arête? As the Greek word defines – excellence or virtue. Arête can simply means the highest achievement in quality, experience, an excellence of any kind. In our modern world, it can simply mean a pursuit of happiness, fulfilment and transcendence. The journey towards arête is a long winding and definitely one that requires strict discipline, ownership and courage. But can virtue or excellence be taught, inherited or even modelled?

The father of ethics, ancient Greek philosopher Socrates shared his view during his conversation with Meno that “if virtue is knowledge, then it must be taught; however, while he has found many seekers of virtue, he has never found any teachers of it. Virtue, then, is not knowledge”. 

It is action.

“Seek progress rather than perfection” – Alissa Finerman.

Moving on the our modern era of technology, distractions (and of course capitalism), I first came across Alissa Finerman’s book called Living in Your Top 1% back in mid 2016, during a random browsing in Kinokuniya. The title resonated with me and there I thought, “what an amazing idea!“. The entire book provides rituals that are practical and inspirational, simple and easy to grasp. But what makes the idea of Living in Your Top 1% amazing, is removing the comparison of others from the equation of self-improvement.

Alissa’s rituals are not entirely new. They resemble the management theory of Observe, Orient, Decide, Act – the OODA loop; they resemble the Massive Action Plan approach from Tony Robbins; they resemble the goal settings idea from Jim Rohn; and they resemble the Brendon Burchard’s High Performance Academy’s teachings. Eventually, in every competitive arena (referring to sports, competitions and olympics etc), we only have ourselves to beat – being a better version of ourselves from yesterday and not follow the trend of “Keeping up with the Joneses“. The key, eventually, lies in the plan to action and executing the plan. Act.

Let’s all be our better selves instead of pitting against others. Let’s embark on our journey of excellence.



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