Excellence is a word that is bandied around a lot lately. When I think of excellence I tend to think of something that is a standout – it is exceptional with sustainable value and quality. Excellence is both a process and an outcome It is being the best we can be in every situation. It is doing the best we can do in every endeavour. It is having the best we can have within our means.
When I teach client service training I start with an activity called “Sensational Client Service” and get the participants to do a “brain dump” (a technical term!) of everything at constitutes sensational client service. The sorts of things that are identified are what you would expect – communication skills, product knowledge, decision making, taking action, rapport etc. When we have a pretty thorough list I then ask the group to rank themselves individually by asking, “Are you doing all of these things?”. I actually say that I don’t want an answer – they just need to think about it. What is interesting is that while we might have an expectation of excellence with other people, are we living excellence in our daily lives?
Excellence means different things to different people. The Japanese have a management style called Kaizen which means continual, incremental improvement. Extending Kaizen past the boundaries of management – it is a way of life; a philosophy that assumes that every area of our life deserves to be improved.
Napoleon Hill and W. Clements Stone, in their book Success through Positive Mental Attitude, identify a number of factors that contribute to excellence:
ü Having a definiteness of purpose
ü Harnessing a positive mental attitude in all situations
ü Going the extra mile – adding more value than is expected
ü Thinking – and commiting to life-long learning
ü Being self-disciplined
ü Being part of a support “mastermind” group
ü Having faith in infinite intelligence with a corresponding belief in yourself
ü Getting along with other people – having a pleasing personality
ü Showing personal initiative and quality in our endeavours
ü Being able to stay focused to achieve goals
ü Working as part of a team for win/win outcomes
ü Learning from defeat
ü Having a creative vision
ü Managing finances well – budgeting and wealth creation
ü Maintenance of good physical, mental and emotional health
ü Developing only desirable habits
Excellence in our Life Areas
One of the things I like to do, and to teach other people, is to reflect on what excellence means for you under each of your life wheel areas
- Health and wellbeing
- Intimate relationship
- Career / business
- Fun and recreation
- Physical environment
- Personal growth
Begin by thinking about people who you admire in each of these areas –
- what do they do?
- what do they think?
- what do they feel?
- what do they believe about themselves and the world?
- what is important to them?
Notice as you make your list if there are any common themes.
Then start to make a plan for what you can do to model them.
Take one thing a week and apply it until it becomes a habit. Repeat this process each week.
If you do 1 thing a week- in a year that is 52 things that have improved in your life! Remember – continual improvement is not a one time event!
The secret of joy in life is commiting to excellence. To know how to do anything well is to enjoy it. Commiting to excellence is a wonderfully liberating life choice – and the beauty is – you get to be the judge of your own personal best!
As Aristotle said –
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act but a habit.
I hope some of these ideas might be useful for you as they have been for me.