Commentary for the reader: Many who know me, know that I have a twin brother, Joseph. We weren’t close for a long time. But in the past seven years we’ve been closer than we have been probably our entire lives. Like myself, my brother writes. He has a very inquisitive mind and he researches topics of his interest and he reads a lot. One particular writing he sent me I posted on facebook a time ago, but thought I’d post it here. Hope you enjoy it.

In the various arenas of life there usually emerge individuals of exceptional accomplishment. Their names become associated with the area of life in which they have excelled and their achievements become the relative benchmarks of excellence. Whether artistic or athletic, industrious or inventive, they all share three common elements.

The first is inherent ability. A common truth among all people is despite an awareness of our existence we had no control over the aptitude and ability we’re born with. But it is equally as true that our inherent ability is the foundation of all merit. Some people can never become fortune 500 CEOs or the Daytona 500 winner for no other reason than that the traits they’ve been born with prevent it. Unless one’s achievements are in spite of inherent abilities that made achievement highly unlikely, this element should not be the source of pride, for it would be like having pride in a tree’s height though you didn’t plant it.

The second element is choice. Though some people feel compelled to do or become certain things in life, compulsion does not neutralize choice. Before being held to account for our deeds, we are responsible for our decisions. Our abilities and circumstances provide a plethora of options, but at some point we must choose. This is why we rightfully derive pleasure from our accomplishments, because they show an exceptional aspect of our inner cognitive facility. In praise and being praised very few consider choice, though it is the essence of human action, and where the honor of all merit begins.

The final element is that of conditioning. Whether our talents be physical or intellectual, we must sufficiently exercise them so as to maximize their potential. This comes in the form of study and reflection on one hand and necessary and complimentary action on the other. It is important to investigate the kind and degree of conditioning warranted by one’s chosen undertaking. For this is the most determining factor in all exceptional deeds.

The act that is often referenced as great, is only the sum of the elements of merit and never greater than its parts. Much like many common objects that we only think of as wholes, and by so doing fail to appreciate the full extent of their being.