Posted by: Christine Donovan | July 29, 2009

Be Excellent, For Goodness Sake

“The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.” — Vince Lombardi, renowned football coach


There is a reason why I chose to focus my speaking and consulting business on the concept of EXCELLENCE.

It’s partially because I’ve met so many people who want to get by by doing the absolute minimum.  It’s partially because I see people in my seminars whose definition of excellence is all about material possessions, or perhaps getting “power” over others, etc.  It’s because we live in a culture of victim and entitlement mentality; we exist in a world focused on instant gratification, convenience, and “if it feels good do it” thinking…… all of which are antithetical to living a life of excellence.

So let’s look at what excellence is really about:

Excellence is about uncompromising integrity.   You either have it or you don’t; there is no gray area.  You tell the truth; you don’t gossip; you don’t backstab; you never take so much as a pen that doesn’t belong to you; you turn in lost items — wallets, credit cards, etc.   Take a moment to look at your life and your philosophy about integrity.  Where can you improve?

Excellence is about ALWAYS doing the extra thing.  Doing a good job isn’t good enough.  Doing a GREAT job is mandatory for excellence.  Arrive at appointments 10 minutes early; stay after meetings to help straighten up;  (In fact, always leave a room or situation in better shape than you found it); develop the habit of thinking beyond the minimum — If the report is due Friday, can you finish it by Thursday?  If you’re given a budget of $500, can you reduce the actual cost to $450?   If your coworker is stressed about a project, can you offer your assistance?  Think EXTRA, not minimum.  Especially in these tough times — employees who go the extra mile tend to be those who keep their jobs.

Excellence is about unquestionable commitment.  Speaking of being 10-minutes early, are you always, at least, on time? (Whether you realize it, agreeing to an 8:00 am meeting is a commitment!  Not 8:05 or 8:10…but 8:00!)  Do you do what you say you will do?  Do you “walk your talk,” or do you speak with forked-tongue?  Do people know, without question, that your word is true?

Excellence is about quality.  It doesn’t matter what your line of work is, if you are a doctor, sales clerk, homemaker or student… the quality of your life, your work, your relationships… reflects on who you really are.   At work, do you let little errors sneak by; do you ever say “It’s not my job”?  Do you turn in reports with typos, smudges, misalignments?; Do you leave trash on the floor for the cleaning person to pick up?  In your relationships, do you seek out people of excellence (to motivate and energize you), or do you prefer to hang around with whiners and “victims” because you’d rather join a pity party than solve problems and do something meaningful?

Excellence is in the details.  Your clothes, your hair, your nails, your language… all reflect your level of excellence (or lack thereof).  Scuffed shoes, dirty fingernails, soiled or ill-fitting clothing speak volumes.  Does your language (grammar, expressions, profanity) reveal who you really are?  Is your work sloppy? Is your home or office a mess?  Details reveal the REAL you.  So what are you telling the world?

Excellence is about leaving a legacy.  So many people have the crazy idea that we were put on this planet to collect stuff — homes, electronics, cars, even “people” (i.e. status).   But when it’s all said and done, do you want people to remember you for your Mercedes CL550 and your 55-inch HDTV Plasmavision Display TV?  Or do you want to make a contribution to the world — by the example you’ve set, the people you’ve helped, the advice you’ve given?  Excellent people are NOT about owning stuff — they are about leaving a legacy. 

This life of ours is short.  What do you want said at your eulogy?  Will it indicate a life of excellence?

Well I’ll conclude for today.  But think about your life… how excellent is it?

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