Excellence is the adding of extra to the ordinary, through commitment to doing better and the determination to achieve the best. Henry Ward Beecher says, “We should not judge people by their peak of excellence; but by the distance they have traveled from the point where they started.” Rising up at every pitfall and striving for the best is what makes a true winner.
General Colin Powell, who served as a US Army commander, Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff during the 1991 Gulf War, National Security Advisor and Secretary of State said, “If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.” Having risen through the ranks as African American with Jamaican roots to become a person of influence in the corridors of power in America, he is qualified to advise on excellence.
Success requires effective setting of goals, planning and focus, with the view of attaining perfection. Vince Lombardi says, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence” and Michael J. Fox echoes, “I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence I can reach for; perfection is God’s business.” Endeavour to see the pinnacle of excellence as perfection and ensure that your best achievement cannot be better.
One of the leading ingredients of victory is innovation. Perhaps that is why Booker T. Washington said, “Excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way.” The quality of your achievement is always dependent on how you step up your efforts in finding solutions to common challenges. This is what makes employees to be retained, promoted, disciplined or relieved of responsibilities.
“Excellence is the unlimited ability to improve the quality of what you have to offer,” says Rick Pitino and Charles Kendall Adams echoes that, “No student ever attains very eminent success by simply doing what is required of him: it is the amount and excellence of what is over and above the required, that determines the greatness of ultimate distinction.” Always go the extra mile with confidence and never settle for less.
In public service, enterprise, academics or other endeavors, excellence requires relentless pursuit of the desired mission with a total commitment to the best means of getting there. Ralph Marston says, “Excellence is not a skill. It is an attitude.” It is an attitude of a champion that can help make a dream come true and for a vision to be realized.
“The secret of living a life of excellence is merely a matter of thinking thoughts of excellence,” says Charles R. Swindoll, who says it is about programming our minds with information that will set us free. Being thorough and seeking out mentors can make a difference. “Excellence is a better teacher than mediocrity. The lessons of the ordinary are everywhere. Truly profound and original insights are to be found only in studying the exemplary,” says Warren G. Bennis.
Oprah Winfrey, one of the most powerful women in the world said, “I was raised to believe that excellence is the best deterrent to racism or sexism. And that’s how I operate my life.” Prejudice is based on the idea that some people are not deserving. Failure to recognize excellence regardless of who it is coming from amounts to moral and intellectual bankruptcy. It reflects the lack of integrity, respect and is a source of resentment.
“Dreams can become a reality when we possess a vision that is characterized by the willingness to work hard, a desire for excellence, and a belief in our right and our responsibility to be equal members of society,” says Janet Jackson. Excellence draws recognition, accolades and honors. That is why the best of the best get Oscars, Grammies and other awards. Mediocrity, which attracts ridicule, is about settling for the most convenient results.
President Barack Obama of America, who was born of an African father during the Civil Rights era to become the most powerful man said, “We need to internalize this idea of excellence. Not many folks spend a lot of time trying to be excellent.” Excellence requires passion, the goal of doing better and the mission of making a difference. It is about standing for the highest ideals that are achievable through competence and a deeper sense of humanity.
Good leaders have the ability to delegate excellence, which they always demand. People who have the spirit of excellence work with leaders to advance success. As Aristotle said, “Perfect friendship is the friendship of men who are good and alike in excellence.” The train of excellence is powered by positive energy and often derailed by mediocrity, disobedience and arrogance. Smart people attain excellence as their key to success.
Leaders who succeed in their work are those who are able to establish a framework for excellence in the delivery of products and services. Qualities of excellence include sharing a sound vision, laying out goals, nurturing commitment, dissemination of knowledge and advancing innovation. Imparting excellence requires enabling change, increasing productivity and inspiring organizational transformation for lasting impact.