The 4 Elements of True Excellence
I think (I hope) everyone reading these words has the desire to deliver excellence in everything we do. I believe the pursuit of excellence is a noble one. I also think that pursuing excellence serves the manifold purpose of growing our capacity to produce, bettering the lives of those we serve, and even ourselves. Excellence can come from a place of pride, but it can also come from a place of compassion and servant leadership. I think that it’s important, however, to keep a proper perspective on what excellence actually IS. So, to do that, let’s look at what it isn’t.
1. There’s Always Someone Better
Excellence is not about being the best. One of the strangest and most profound pieces of wisdom I have received is this: “There’s always someone better than you.” That may sound like terrible advice but consider that even Olympic champions are only the best for a few years; and often someone wins because they had the best day of their career while someone else potentially better had the worst. We’re down to the final four in March Madness—only one is a one seed. The point of excellence is not necessarily about BEING the best, but about striving for YOUR best.
2. Your Absolute Best
You do you. No one can perform at your level exactly as you do. People like your work, otherwise you’d never get any business. It’s critical to deliver your top level of quality day in and day out, but let’s keep it real here, we don’t always feel “top level.” Everyone has good days and bad days, but what separates mediocrity from excellence is the ability to push through. Not that your effort always matches with results (that’s just not realistic), but that you’re always GIVING your very best effort. Mediocrity permits excuses; excellence pushes through the excuse and still delivers the goods. Notice I’m not making any reference to the legitimacy of the excuse—maybe it’s real, and it’s challenging! People who consistently deliver excellence have legitimate excuses too, but they’ve learned to deny as much power and authority to the excuse as possible.
3. Getting Better
There’s always someone better than me, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to let it stay that way. I may not be better than everyone, but I can be better than I was yesterday. A massive component of excellence is continual improvement. The refining process is the never-ending crucible of curbing our weaknesses, creating new skills, and honing our strengths. There’s more to it than that, surely, but the main take away here is that you’re never a finished product. Not this side of eternity, anyway. As much as excellence is not about being the best, it IS about getting better. Get a mentor, take a class, read a book, watch a YouTube video, read an article. Every piece of knowledge that you implement into your business is growing your level of excellence. All of it. Be encouraged.
The J.O.Y. acronym for those who aren’t familiar stands for Jesus, Others, and You. The idea of it is to maintain a proper perspective on priorities in life. Notice that the last priority is me. This flies in the face of current thinking that I need to do what’s best for me—despite what it does to those around me. We will reap the fruit of that way of thinking in a few years but, regardless of your religious leanings, I would like to encourage you to think differently. You will never regret serving others well. You will never feel like you wasted your life by doing good for your neighbor. If all we ever do is think about ourselves, then we ourselves is all we’ll have. Excellence is the ability to consider the needs of others as more important than myself. To look to the needs of others before I look to my own needs. Truly, this is next level thinking. Truly, this is excellence.