Rabbi Twerski zt”l, in his book Malchut Shlomo, writes a very short piece for Parshat Noah. He quotes the very beginning of the parsha, …אֵלֶּה תּוֹלְדֹת נֹחַ נֹחַ, “These are the generations of Noah, Noah…”and teaches that Noah was himself his own “generation” or result. In other words, Noah made himself into the Zaddik he is later described to be.
The insight here is that one requirement to becoming a Zaddik, a truly holy and saintly person, is to mature and evolve yourself into this highest level of being. While we each have the innate ability to become a Zaddik, it won’t be bestowed on us. Rather, it is something to strive for, and the way we strive for it is only by working, tirelessly if necessary, on ourselves.
This is really the message of the entire Torah and the purpose of the entire mitzva (commandment) system. We, and the world, are created intentionally imperfect and the power as well as the responsibility to refine and perfect ourselves is handed to each of us. Even if we’re not completely righteous and holy, as the commentators point out about Noah, we are capable of raising ourselves to the highest degree.