People striving for excellence want to serve more, to give more, to improve at whatever they’re doing. I believe the choice to be excellent begins with aligning your thoughts and words with the intention to require more from yourself.
-- Oprah Winfrey
I’m one of those people who is literally always thinking. My mind is constantly jam-packed full of ideas, thoughts and theories – some productive (How many projects will I actually be able to tackle on my to-do list this summer?), some mundane (How long will bell peppers stay fresh in the crisper?), and some totally ridiculous (I think it’s obscene that Heather Mills might get up to one-quarter of Sir Paul’s fortune after only being married four years). One of the more constructive things I’ve been mulling over lately, in my quest to re-define myself is the notion of excellence – what it is, and what it isn’t. A old issue of O magazine (Oprah’s publication) spurred this particular line of thinking, and after reading a number of articles that focused on cultivating excellence in one’s life, it seemed to me that there were lessons to be learned from it.
The dictionary definition of the word excellent is deceptively simple: of the highest or finest quality; exceptionally good of its kind. Its synonyms include brilliant, exceptional, first-rate, admirable, tremendous, and outstanding.
That being said, here are a couple of personal conclusions I’ve drawn about the idea of being excellent:
Being excellent is not synonymous with being perfect.
Excellence isn’t about outdoing, outperforming, or outshining someone else.
To embrace excellence lets you discover what you can accomplish when you are curious, passionate and excited about whatever you’re doing.
To do your best in any circumstance and to be happy in who you are – that is the true essence of excellence.
Excellence is best judged not in the spotlight of success, but in the face of adversity.
So -- where do I start this quest for excellence and how does it reconcile with where I am right now... I suppose it means striving not to be perfect in my efforts, but instead aiming to make a difference in everything I do; to be enthusiastic and committed and effective; and, perhaps most importantly, to dream big and plan creatively in every appropriate aspect.
I’ve got one more thing to add to that summer to-do list: to discover the passion in all areas of my life, and to in turn channel that passion into whatever is necessary for me to be the best I can be. I’m going to work to be excellent to my loved ones, to my community wherever I roam, and most importantly, to myself.
Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it. Autograph your work with excellence.