Friday, March 16, 2018

President Gordon B. Hinckley on striving for excellence

President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910-2008) was called to the Quorum of Twelve in 1961. He served as a counselor in the First Presidency from 1981-1995, then as Church President until his death in 2008.
"There is a sign on the gate of this campus that reads: 'Enter to learn; go forth to serve.'
"I invite you, every one of you, to make that your motto. Mediocrity will never do. You are capable of something better. Give it your very best. You will never again have such an opportunity. Pray about it. Work at it. Make it happen. Drink in the great knowledge here to be obtained from this dedicated faculty. Qualify yourselves for the work of the world that lies ahead. It will largely compensate you in terms of what it thinks you are worth. Walk the high road of charity, respect, and love for others and particularly those who are less fortunate. Be happy. Look for the sunlight in life. Reach for the stars."
- Gordon B. Hinckley, "Remarks at the Inauguration of President Cecil O. Samuelson," BYU, Sep. 9, 2003
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

These remarks were addressed to a gathering of mostly students at BYU when Cecil O. Samuelson was inaugurated as the new BYU president in 2003. However, the principles apply broadly to all of us, young or old, formal student or informal learner. President Hinckley was always very optimistic, but also very inviting and challenging for all to do their very best, to try harder, to be more committed to the things they knew were true and right. He doesn't want mediocre efforts; he encouraged us to do our very best:

Success in learning, like success in most areas, doesn't come free. As President Hinckley notes, we must work hard, we must pray, and be very diligent to take advantages of the opportunities that are presented to us.

His final encouragement regarding our attitudes towards others is more general—to be kind and charitable to those around us. And then, never forget that optimistic outlook for which President Hinckley is well remembered: "Be happy. Look for the sunlight in life. Reach for the stars." Great counsel.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

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