"What does it mean to be fully human? What is the highest human good?" asked David Hart, in the Marriott Center Tuesday.
The BYU associate professor of management answered these questions with one word: arête, the Greek word for excellence, which means living up to one's potential.
"Our main purpose here on Earth is to become. To become our best, but more importantly, to become perfect, even like our Father in Heaven," Hart said.
Each individual is given a certain set of unique gifts and talents, and it is that person's duty to figure out how to use those talents to make an imprint on the world, Hart said. Take advantage of time, live up to the full potential, and become excellent now.
"Personal excellence is not about being the best, but being your best at whatever you choose to do," Hart said.
To aide in this quest toward unique excellence, Hart gave five guided tips:
"The first step in being engaged is to be fully present in whatever demands your attention," Hart said.
With whatever task at hand, find a way to completely immerse yourself in that work and do the best job possible. The more engagement in any task moves you closer to reaching your potential; and the closer you are to being excellent.
2. Seek absence
In a world completely overwhelmed by technology, it becomes difficult to find time away from everything; or in other words, find times of absence.
But this absence is vital to progression, because in the moments of absence people can ponder who they are, and what their talents are doing to make those around them better, happier people.
"Build absence into your lives. Set aside times to unplug, remove distraction, and let your mind wander," Hart said.
3. Be awe-ful
"Make an extra effort to find awe in the everyday aspects of your lives and take a moment to say, 'Wow!'," Hart said.
Taking moments everyday to be in awe of God's creations makes it easy to understand that there are so many ways to be excellent in this life. The Savior has blessed the Earth with so much beautiful opportunity, and if one can see all that beauty, then they can use it to fulfill their potential.
4. Be selfless
As one forgets himself and serves others, he can more fully discover himself and his divine talents and gifts.
"You find yourself when you lose yourself," Hart said. "The Lord challenges us to lose ourselves so that we can have the attitudes that will keep us grounded, humble, and open to learning."
5. Be compassionate
Hart quoted from the Book of Jude, verse 22: "and of some, have compassion, making a difference."
It is critical to progression to be able to feel as others feel and have empathy. And then acting on that empathy creates true compassion and love towards others.
"Compassion is an indispensible part of personal growth that will reveal much about your distinct set of skills and what types of situations will allow you to better the people and environment around you," Hart said.
Finding excellence is a difficult and thought out process that can take a long time to develop. But each person is blessed with both unique talents and paths of excellence; the struggle and challenge is finding them.
"Spend your time here at BYU learning about who you really are and preparing yourselves to have an impact on the world," said Hart. "Then, go and do. Be excellent and make a difference."
Next Forum Address:
Due to Monday classes on the Tuesday after the President's Day holiday there will be no Devotional next week. The next BYU Forum address will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 24, at 11:05 a.m., in the Marriott Center. Former Chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities Jim Leach will address the campus community.
Writer: Jenna Randle