I often marvel at the passion with which I see high achievers perform their work. It makes me wonder what set them apart from others who just seem to coast through work and life. I believe it is their commitment to excellence. It has been said that excellence is a habit, an attitude, something we strive for and commit to.
Excellence is active—it is about doing, not simply being. But what really drives a person to excel? I think if we observed the habits of those who we hold in high esteem for their commitment to excellence, we will find they are I.N.S.P.I.R.E.D. and share the following traits in common:
- They are INNOVATORS. Excellence seekers don’t just wait for opportunity to knock, they build the door. They make it happen. They envision their end goal in mind and they do what it takes to see it to fruition. “The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential…these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence. “ Confucius
- They are NIMBLE. You can’t perform at your peak if you aren’t quick to adapt to changing circumstances and people. Situations often require us to think on our feet, to respond spontaneously, and to make quick decisions. Those on a path to excellence understand that the failure to make a decision is itself a decision—they use obstacles as stepping stones to their goal and quickly address problems as they occur. Nimble people recover from setbacks and push forward towards their goal.
- They are SUCCESS-DRIVEN in whatever endeavor they undertake. I believe that excellence is the vehicle to success. Success comes when we go above and beyond in our actions, when we exceed expectations, when we soar above constraints and limitations—when we practice excellence. It is not accidental. “Excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way.” Booker T Washington
- They are PURPOSEFUL and have an overarching vision which guides their actions. Without a singular purpose in pursuit of a dream, excellence is impossible. Think of all the great leaders, performers and innovators of our time: Martin Luther King Jr., Bill Gates, Michael Jackson, Howard Schultz, Steve Jobs, Oprah—all had a vision and purpose, a singular calling that made them strive to achieve despite criticism, amidst challenges and in spite of perceived improbability. They saw what we could not see, did what we could not do, and by passionately pursuing their Purpose they created something magnificent.
- They have INTEGRITY. A person in pursuit of excellence does not tolerate mediocrity of any kind. They perform at a high level and they take pride in their effort. They place a high premium on their honor, consistency and reliability. It is their attitude and approach to life that gives them an edge over others. “It is your attitude, not your aptitude that determines your altitude.” Zig Ziglar
- They are RESULTS-ORIENTED. Achievement is important to the professional who seeks excellence. It is the realization of hard-won goals seen to fruition; the reward for labor; the triumph over challenge. I can’t help but think of a mountain climber who has summited Mount Everest. This is the nature of excellence—it demands the best, it is victorious, it leads to results. “Excellence is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.” John W. Gardner
- They are ENGAGED in their work. The focus, drive and determination that is required to be excellent, needs to be fueled by a high level of engagement –this is what ignites passion, which sparks creativity, which produces genius. Steve jobs (an excellence seeker extraordinaire!) once said, “Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” Quality comes when excellence is demanded.
- They are DILIGENT. It is the hardworking, meticulous and thorough person who produces work that is above par. Excellence is a habit of consistently practicing these principles in everything one does. It is not just a one-time act –it is behavior that is practiced time and time again. This requires diligence. “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle
I’d love your thoughts. How do you practice excellence?
Natalie Jobity is an inspirational author, freelance writer and editor, and marketing consultant. She consults with new authors and writers on honing their “voice” so their words have the desired impact. She is the author of the Amazon Best-selling style guide: Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style.
Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org