When I was in college, I fell in love with the Aristotelian concept of Arete. (pronounced like are-uh-TAY) The Greek word is usually translated as: Excellence. I remain in love with Arete because it creates excellence as self-referential, completely a function of an internal measure. What this means is that the excellence of a thing or being (according to Aristotle) can only be determined by how well it is being and expressing ITSELF.
This ancient concept sank into and affected my entire understanding of who we are, and what we are here to do. Excellence consists in being the perfect expression of your own self. Your Arete is different from mine. Your only job on this planet is to be the most excellent you that you can be. How well you can do that will be determined by how willing you are to know and embrace who you actually are, as distinct from who you think you should be, or who you were told you should be by society, media, your mother…
Spirited women know this, but it bears repeating periodically, as we all can get caught up in the deadly game of comparison. As Oscar Wilde said: “Be yourself, everyone else is taken.” An early mentor of mine applied it to right livelihood, saying “The Universe pays you very well to do your job, and very poorly to do someone else’s.” And of course, Martha Graham also said it beautifully here.
So how does one discover and express her Arete? It’s simple. The universe has given each of us a built-in compass that guides us right to it. Your Arete is found by following your delight. That which truly lights you up, makes you more of yourself, is your access to your excellence. Your preferences - in colors, clothing, food, jobs, friends… these delights are specific to you, and by taking the time to notice and honor what truly gives you pleasure in areas large and small, you will find yourself moving closer and closer to an authentic expression of self. Which, really, is why YOU are here, isn’t it?
Seeking, embracing, and expressing your Arete will make you irresistible, because you will be finding and expressing delight - even when the work is hard, or the inevitable hassles of life show up. When you are committed first and foremost to being uniquely and perfectly you, and use the barometer of delight to guide you - you grant others permission to shine as well. If it’s been a while, you might want to read over Marianne Williamson’s famous poem, "A Return to Love," so often mis-attributed to Nelson Mandela.
Do yourself a favor - start listing everything that delights you. It’s your truest guide to who you really are.