“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of
their appointed rounds.” While this is believed to be the motto of the US Postal Service, it truly is not. Although the words are engraved above the entrance to the 8th Avenue Post Office in New York City, it actually comes from Book 8 of the Persian Wars by Herodotus. However it is a guide that helped to shape that organization. Have Post Offices closed due to weather? No doubt. Has a postman left mail undelivered? Absolutely. A motto is not always a prime directive that cannot be broken. It is usually more of a rule of thumb. A way to know if you’re on the right path. Will there be special circumstances? Surely. It is not a problem that the USPS doesn’t always follow this “motto”. Possibly the bigger issue is, do you even have one?
This might seem funny because you are not a corporation or organization. Having a motto, vision or set of principles to live by can be daunting. It would be much easier to “go with the flow.” Or not “put yourself in a box.” Who wants to put limitations, expectations and consternations into their life? The answer is probably you! There’s enough science around about decision fatigue and the overwhelming nature of our world. Perhaps the Post Office guiding idea is exactly what is needed in many of our lives. There doesn’t need to be an exceedingly high bar for your motto. More than anything the idea is to breed consistency. The mail is going to get delivered and despite these obstacles, we’re still going to show up. Each of us has those types of things that we can be consistent about. It does not need to be a prison or a form of indentured servitude. Simply a statement of who you are.
“Persistently Chasing Excellence” was something that I developed years ago. The idea was to follow in the footsteps of the Jeffersonian concept of the “Pursuit of happiness.” Having a motto that lent itself toward forward motion was important. Although I have goals for myself, they are disparate. Depending on the part of my life and present circumstances, they could change vastly. However I could always hang my hat on the fact that I was chasing excellence on a regular basis. Even if I was doing it poorly, I could feel as though I was living into my purpose in some way.
So what is your motto? It doesn’t have to be original or even 100% accurate. Steal it from somewhere! Nike’s “Just Do It” was stolen from the last words of a death row inmate. Try to ignore that thought next time you see a Nike ad! Regardless, it could be a powerful way for you to take yourself to that next level. Consistency is a strong force in the human psyche. If you were a company, what would be your motto? The do your best to live by it.
Have a great day!