They are a tough act to follow.
With resolve and sincerity, one should aim to exceed the ancients in purity and surpass the former worthies in attentiveness. The way to put that aspiration into practice in one's own person is, for example, to take the same three coins that one's predecessors spent to make a soup of the crudest greens and use them to now to make a soup of the finest cream. This is difficult to do. Why is that? Because present and past are completely different, like the distance between heaven and earth. How could we ever be able to equal their stature? Nevertheless, when we work attentively, therein lies the principle that makes it possible to surpass our predecessors.
From: Tenzo Kyokun - Instructions for the Cook by Eihei Dogen - Translated by Griffith Foulk