Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

How Much Are You Demanding Of Yourself?

We distinguish the excellent man from the common man by saying that the former is the one who makes great demands upon himself, and the latter is one who makes no demands on himself.
Jose Ortega y Gasset, Spanish philosopher and essayist (1883-1955) 


Most of us want to be thought of as excellent–in our work, in our example, in our efforts and ethics, in our health and appearance and in our outlook on life. We want to be excellent parents, excellent friends, excellent employees, supervisors, managers or leaders.  We don’t want to be common in the sense it was used in this thought, as unexceptional, mediocre and unimpressive. (The examples we see of that condition are enough to motivate us!)

Señor Ortega y Gasset was correct: Achieving excellence (or improving substantially) requires making demands on ourselves–perhaps asking of ourselves actions that are difficult or uncomfortable mentally or physically, or that require time and effort. It’s rarely easy. Most of us have to say, “I want this from you, Mind, Body and Spirit. I know you can give it to me and I won’t settle for less, so do it!”

What do you want to demand of yourself today, this week or in the coming year?  It doesn’t have to be a dramatic accomplishment to be worthy of demanding more. Maybe you need to more consistently fulfill the requirements of your work role. Maybe you need to focus on a new or renewed good habit; or stopping one thing and starting something else; or being your best self even when you are tempted to be otherwise. It’s all worth the effort, and all of it will give you a wonderful sense of  achievement.

Remember, you can’t hint or hope, even to yourself, and expect to achieve. You will have to command, insist and refuse to accept anything less than what you want.  That is the ultimate self-discipline that leads to excellence.  Be demanding!

 You can do it!

December 7th, 2009 Posted by | Life and Work, Personal and Professional Development | 13 comments


  1. You probably get tired of me saying this, but it’s true.. you seem to know exactly what I need to hear. I came to work tonight feeling as though I had seriously let myself down on something. I read this and realized I had been hinting and hoping rather than demanding of myself. I’ve already done what I needed to do. Thank you, thank you!

    Comment by P.A.H. | December 7, 2009

  2. Tina says:
    I needed it for myself, as well! Keep the faith. T.

    Comment by TLR | December 8, 2009

  3. Short, succinct, yet slap-dab in the bull’s eye – as usual! How interesting that our culture has a fascination with x-treme sports of all sorts (enjoyed by most of us from a recliner), yet there seems to be a disconnect with our ability to make application to those areas of life where placing demands on ourselves really matters. Thanks for this, Tina.

    Comment by Jeff Adams | December 8, 2009

  4. Tina says: Thank you Jeff! And it comes to mind that sometimes people who demand a great deal of themselves in one area, like sports (or anything else) have trouble demanding the same discipline in their private lives. I wonder if placing such excessive demands in one area makes us feel we need a reward in the other areas? If so, we should be cautious about unreasonable demands on ourselves. Another article!

    Comment by TLR | December 8, 2009

  5. Since you don’t use names I will comment on this. I went to so-called helpful therapy for a year for a problem I was having. I wasn’t clinically depressed, just sick and tired of everything and beating up on myself pretty bad.

    All my therapist ever told me was that I was asking too much of myself, expecting too much of me, taking too much blame for things outside of my control, etc. She meant it for the best, but the result was I felt I couldn’t make a difference in my own life.

    One day I went to the Employee Assistance Program at work, even though I was worried they would blab everything to someone. The EAP counselor looked at me after I finished talking and told me, “You aren’t expecting too much of yourself. You’re not expecting enough. You can do better than this.”

    Maybe I was just ready to hear it, but it was a life changing thing for me. I stopped accepting my failings so easily and started working on strengths and overcoming my weaknesses. I am thankful for my EAP and for a counselor who had the guts to tell me I should be expecting more of myself.

    All of this is to say that your thoughts are exactly what my counselor said. I appreciate your inspiration, Tina, and I look forward to reading you every week.

    Comment by Been There | December 8, 2009

  6. Tina says: Wow. Thank YOU.

    Comment by TLR | December 8, 2009

  7. I gave a homily not long ago in which I said that God, like all loving parents wants to see us gain strength. Thoughts such as these can help any of us with that rewarding effort. You’re in my prayers, Tina, and I hope this Holy time finds you blessed in every way. Stay warm! Don

    Comment by D.R. | December 9, 2009

  8. Tina says: Thank you Don! I don’t know where you live, but I hope it’s warmer there than here! (Minus 4 right now.) I’ve sent you an email to say hello. T.

    Comment by TLR | December 9, 2009

  9. Hello Tina, I was directed here by Jeff Adams site and I’m glad I was because these are excellent thoughts.

    I see you’re doing a lot with church safety and security, which is always needed. You’re a busy lady! Thank you for sharing you knowledge.

    Comment by A.T.R. | December 11, 2009

  10. Tina says: Thank you for visiting here! I hope you’ll do it again soon! I’ve sent you an email to tell you secrets about Jeff in High School! 🙂

    Comment by TLR | December 11, 2009

  11. Very good ideas, and your speech at the GPOA banquet was great! My wife enjoyed it too, and we both have enjoyed looking at your website today. Thanks for the inspirational words.

    Comment by Sarge | December 13, 2009

  12. Thank you, Tina, for writing so eloquently on this subject, and including the perfect picture with it. I believe people will meet the expectations you have of them, and this includes yourself!

    I hope you are having a wonderful holiday season!

    Comment by Jennifer | December 16, 2009

  13. Tina says: Thank you Jennifer! I have to tell you that in the past I have sometimes had high expectations of people and was very disappointed. (And also high expectations of myself that I did not fulfill. I’m working on those!) 🙂

    Comment by TLR | December 16, 2009

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