“While the law [of competition] may be sometimes hard for the individual, it is best for the race, because it insures the survival of the fittest in every department” (Andrew Carnegie).
YOU MAY NOT HAVE THOUGHT ABOUT IT, BUT MANY OF THE GOOD THINGS IN LIFE DEPEND ON “FITNESS.” In its most literal sense, fitness means that something is the proper shape and size. Your shoes, for example, fit if they correspond to the shape and size of your feet. But we use the word figuratively in many other ways.
Am I physically fit? This is the only kind of fitness that many people think of these days, and while there are other important kinds of fitness, as we shall see, physical fitness is not an issue that should be disregarded. To be physically fit means that, as far as we are able, we have maintained a physical condition that fits the demands that life makes on us. Our physical condition is right for what we have to do.
Is my conduct fitting? This question takes the question of fitness to a different level. Here we are concerned with whether our behavior is the “proper shape and size,” and this is a difficult matter. On the one hand, there are those who have no higher goal in life than “fitting in.” They will even compromise their moral principles to meet this objective. On the other hand, there are those who have a total disregard for what is fitting and appropriate. In these days of radical individualism, these folks seem to be in the majority. But while it may sometimes be difficult to judge what is fitting in a particular situation, the question of appropriate conduct is not a totally subjective matter, and most of us would do well to think about it more often than we do.
Am I fit for the work that is mine to do? All of us have work to do, and so we must address the issue of our talents, our knowledge, and our skills. Whatever work a person is responsible for doing (and I’m not just talking about one’s paid job or occupation), that work will be done better if he or she is fit for it. So we need to do everything in our power to make ourselves more fit for our work. When (a) what we do fits us, and (b) we’ve increased our skills in order to fit the job, good things are bound to happen. So let’s acquire abilities that are the “proper shape and size” for our opportunities.
“In order that people may be happy in their work . . . they must be fit for it” (John Ruskin).