do you have a burning desire to be excellent?

Agnes de Mille wrote Martha: The Life and Work of Martha Graham, about the famed dancer and choreographer.

In it, Agnes writes, “I confessed that I had a burning desire to be excellent, but no faith that I could be.”

Who among us has not felt that way?  Artists, writers, mechanics, dancers, photographers, programmers, speakers, teachers, barrel-makers… who?

Martha Graham‘s quiet response:

There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique.

And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it.

It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.

You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.


  • I know longer have a burning desire to be excellent because I AM EXCELLENT!!! (insert evil-maniac laugh here).
    Seriously, I like the quiet response. It is the way I try to live my life and somedays I think I succeed and others days not so much but at least I am always trying.

  • Indeed, it is good to recognise our own excellence – as it exists. And then let it be okay to be human along the way. Today, I am being called on to recognise my EXTREME humanity. Blagh.

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