Strive for Excellence
“The fact that excellence isn’t something a person is born with should be encouraging.”
The quote above is from John C. Maxwell’s latest article, A More Excellent Life, in which he provides steps to reach personal greatness. Mr. Maxwell is a speaker, bestselling author and founder of EQUIP, who communicates his principles to Fortune 500 companies, international marketing organizations and more.
The Pursuit of Excellence
Mr. Maxwell defines excellence as, “…generally consistent state of high quality that may bring to mind unmatched performance, unusual expertise, or consistent high-quality performance.” This applies to many aspects of your life: making good grades as a student, excelling in a favorite sport, or achieving goals as a volunteer or intern. But, you don’t have to be talented to be the best at what you set about to do. Excellence is not comparing yourself to others and trying to outdo them–it’s about being your best self.
You can improve any area of your life you wish to by following Mr. Maxwell’s pathway to excellence I’ve condensed below:
Find your passion-which translates into something you feel deeply about–coming from your heart. Performing duties day in and day out, like a robot, is not what passion is, it’s much more. Bring passion, commitment and caring to what you do–love what you do! Passionate people work with their whole heart, with undistracted attention, and with maximum energy.
How do you apply your passion? You need to reshuffle tasks in the direction of your passion by taking inventory of activities you enjoy and in which you excel. What energizes you and makes you feel alive? Now take inventory of activities which drain energy. Ask yourself why these tasks weigh heavy on you. Shift school or work in the direction of your passion, taking gradual steps to get you there.
Never cease practicing-because passion will only take you so far. Malcolm Gladwell points out in his book, Outliers, that innate talent has less to do with excellence than does practice. He found successful people put in thousands of hours of practice before becoming successful. He writes, “Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.” Remember the old saying, “Practice makes perfect”?
You’ll want to do more than learn, you’ll want to actually do. Once you put learning into practice, you’ve found the key. The principle applies to all professions or businesses too. “Perform the skill to perfect the skill” and then when you teach it to someone else, you not only pass it on, you solidify it in your mind.
Honor your values-you’ve got to establish what they are and hold onto them. Don’t sabotage your education or a bright future in the workplace by trashing your values. Maxwell states, “Passion and practice bring excellence, but character sustains excellence over time.” If you don’t have a strong character, you’ll certainly destroy your talent. We all know someone who gained success in an area, but didn’t have a solid foundation in character to sustain it, ditching integrity in the process.
True Meaning of Success
It’s good news that excellence isn’t something you’re born with, but you can achieve if willing to do the work. Determining your passion, putting in the practice, and honoring your values along the way will ensure you reach a level of personal excellence.
And that may be the true meaning of success in life.