Striving for excellence

Published: Monday, July 2 2012 11:00 p.m. MDT

Excellent performance is what separates an average business person from men and women of honor and acclaim. Those who have distinguished themselves with accolades of distinction have had bold ideas and great plans to achieve them. They have worked with energy, passion and perseverance to exceed anticipated results. They have overcome every barrier and climbed around every obstacle to meet their lofty goals. They have become the best at what they do and have thereby achieved greatness.

Eminent business builders are second to no one. They have gone beyond what is expected and have become winners on the award podium of business endeavors.

When asked what motivates their superlative performance, some note the appeal of prestige, the honors of men, fame, glory and wealth. Others describe inner rewards of fulfillment and personal satisfaction.

Many who have achieved success were encouraged to go beyond the mark by others. Mentors, parents, spouses, teachers and coaches had given them words of encouragement or friendly challenges to be outstanding. Expectations were set to climb as high, as far and as fast as they could; and that's what they have done.

On the other hand, we often see individuals who didn't need a push in the back to move forward. They already had a fire in their bellies to pursue with intensity and vigor their dreams of launching a future award-winning business. In many cases, these individuals have been overachievers, building not just one company but many. A few more have gone on to create whole new industries.

It appears that excellence is an attitude, followed by noteworthy execution. Those who rise above the masses have it. The rest of us work for these winners. What's wrong with us? Why are we still sitting in the same cubicle, year after year? Why are we so passive, so lazy? Why are we content to be average or common? Why haven't we achieved greatness and acclaim? What holds us back from our true potential?

Perhaps we lack confidence. Perhaps we have failed in the past. Perhaps we have felt a lack of support and encouragement. Maybe the passion we once had has been extinguished; the drive has vanished.

This week a discouraged young businessman who was looking for help, any help, approached me. He spoke of disappointment, of humiliation and despair. His dreams of greatness had disappeared. He had tried over and over to achieve a modicum of success without results. "What can I do?" he implored. "You know me. Why am I failing? I see my peers, my fellow classmates winning awards and building brilliant careers. Why can't I? What's wrong with me?"

I am afraid this young man is not alone. Discouragement is a common emotion among many of today's workers.

May I suggest a plan of action to restore our confidence to achieve personal excellence at work and in life?

First, know that we can achieve excellence. It is within us. It may be dormant, but it is there. Our fire just needs more fuel — the kind to create a blaze. Fuel that inspires, motivates, encourages and impels us to act. Consider watching a great movie, reading a powerful novel, listening to world-class music, a walk through a forest, and the birth of a child. There is beauty all around us to inspire and lift our eyes upward. Such moments fill us with awe and recognition that we, too, are capable of excellence. We should eliminate every thing from our lives that is dark and negative. Let us pile on cords of positive fuel.

Second, know we can be excellent in something today, no matter what it is, even if it's just brushing our teeth well. Use what we do well as a linear stepping-stone to develop greatness in the next task, and so on. After a while we will find we are outstanding in many areas.

Third, be patient as we pursue our dreams. Keep in mind it takes time — lots of time — to be great in anything. Rewards will come if we remain calm and hopeful. Decide now to be steady, consistent and to not falter.

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