A Life of Excellence

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit”

No matter what you do in life, doing it well reaps great rewards. No, this isn’t an article about great leadership qualities or great results or the excellence achieved by great people. Instead, it is about something more fundamental and more powerful – personal excellence. As it has been said – “There is a person with whom you spend more time than any other, a person who has more influence over you, and more ability to interfere with or to support your growth than anyone else. This ever-present companion is your own self.”

In his book, Stephen Covey split “The 7 habits of highly effective people” into two categories: Personal and Interpersonal habits. He felt that developing personal habits of effectiveness came first. Communicating goals with another person isn’t useful unless you have the discipline to act on those goals yourself. I think the fact that personal excellence comes first is too often understated. Many people attempt to first solve external problems (relationships with friends, financial success, career progress etc.) without even looking inside - at the very foundation - i.e. themselves – If you don’t have mastery over yourself, how can you expect to succeed in mastering anything else? Whether this concept of personal excellence is applied to your work or your health, your relationships or your personal goals, making a commitment to personal excellence in whatever you do virtually guarantees a life of fulfillment, success and passion.

What does excellence have to do with anything? As with most things in life, the results we experience tend to be in proportion with the quality of effort we put forth. If we give a halfhearted effort, we experience minimal results. If we give our absolute best, we will always get excellent results (even if they aren’t what we initially intended). Sometimes the results are BETTER than we expected. You may wonder whether excellence really matters. Can’t you do something “well enough” and call it good? Yes, and that’s not always a bad thing to do. You can still get good results from good intentions and adequate efforts. But the question you need to ask yourself in every situation is, “Am I willing to settle for ‘good enough?’” If not, you might want to change your approach.

Personal excellence is not about being a perfectionist but rather doing your best; to surpass people’s expectations and maybe even your own, to do justice to your talents and abilities and to excel in everything that you do. Many people around the world work hard, but are never able to feel fully content with their lives. However, those who do strive for personal excellence are not only able to feel happy and satisfied with themselves and what they have achieved, but they are also able to make a big impact on others as well. Personal excellence is thus a principle, and it encompasses all good qualities, but the only difference is that if you strive for excellence, you are able to utilize such qualities at a level that is above the standards.

Many people are now beginning to realize the power of SELF and are focusing on themselves in this increasingly complex and dynamic world. They are reaching out to life coaches like me or attending workshops for direction and guidance. The important thing though is to COMMIT to excellence with whatever you do. Don’t clean your house because you “have to”. Clean it out as if a neat house was of utmost importance in the grand scheme of things. Clean it out as if you would rather be doing nothing else in the world. Here’s some good advice for us from the Founder of IBM, Thomas J. Watson (1874 ~ 1956), "If you want to achieve excellence, you can get there today. As of this second, quit doing less-than-excellent work."

All the best in your quest!