When my daughter first came home from camp with a gold medal around her neck, she was thrilled. “Oh, how wonderful!” I gushed. “What did you win that for?” She paused a moment, puzzled. “I don’t know,” she answered, finally. “Everybody got one.” I rearranged my face, hoping for a neutral expression. Difficult as it was, I held my tongue. It was hard to fault the camp counselors for wanting all the kids to feel like winners, and the gold medal did look mighty fancy at the dinner table. But I still found myself wanting to deliver an impassioned lecture about the importance of striving for excellence. I considered the wisdom of launching into a diatribe regarding the cheapening of real accomplishment. I pondered the impact of an entire generation being assured that everything they did was wonderful, no matter what. Later, I did have a talk with my child. I stressed how important it is for her to work hard, to do her very best, to always strive to improve, to excel and to grow. I told her about Olympic gold-medal winners, and how they’re respected as the very best in the world. And, yes, I did tell her that losing doesn’t make you a loser.
But regardless of whatever the latest expert says about the importance of nurturing self-esteem, I think we all lose when we forget that each day is an opportunity to be our very best all over again. Because when we try, really try, to stretch, to step out of our comfort zone, to get it not just right, but perfect, on occasion we do achieve real excellence.
It’s been a year now since we redesigned USD Magazine. While we’ve gotten a bit more self-assured with every issue, I make it my mission to remember that no matter how good we get, we can do better.
And I’m proud to say that so far, every issue we’ve done is, in my mind, the best one ever.
Our efforts haven’t gone unrecognized. Just as we went to press, we received word that we’d won five awards for excellence in the University and College Designers Association design competition. Call me immodest, but I’m not a bit surprised to learn that Art Director Barbara Ferguson has racked up several more well-deserved kudos to add to the already impressive list of design awards she’s won this year. In fact, our team picked up all sorts of other awards in 2005-2006, including prizes from some of the most prestigious competitions around. I’m particularly proud that the magazine received two bronze awards in the CASE Circle of Excellence Competition — for visual design in print and for magazine publishing improvement.
While recognition is wonderful, we try hard not to lose sight of who we’re doing this for. Our readers deserve the very best magazine we can possibly give them, and that’s what we’re going to keep right on producing. And we plan to keep going for the gold. That’s a promise.
— Julene Snyder, Editor