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5 Lessons from the Pursuit of Excellence

Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.” So, how do you make excellence a habit? If you believe that it will just magically occur, then you’re sadly mistaken. Buried within that quote is the unspoken truth that it takes work. As a kid I was consumed with the pursuit of perfection. I thought if I pushed to be perfect it would somehow earn me the gold star of success. Raise your hand if you know that perfection is NOT excellence. Someone should have told me! I thought they were synonymous.

What I now know is the pursuit of perfection held me hostage. It held me to an unachievable standard, and left me still feeling like I was missing the mark. On the other hand, the pursuit of excellence propelled me to new heights. That shift not only altered how I worked, it fundamentally changed me as a person.

Here is what I learned:

Lesson #1: Excellence in Working Together. As a perfectionist, the focus was on “I”. It was about what “I” could do. This led to a constant feeling that everything was my fault. In that state I totally dismissed the fact that in a team environment there is a shared responsibility. Just as you celebrate successes as a team, you share the shame of failure as well.

Lesson #2: Excellence in Leadership. A good leader thinks ahead, while keeping a pulse on what’s important now. A leader knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way," John C. Maxwell.

Lesson #3: Excellence in Execution. How you get it done is just as important as actually getting it done. Operating with a sense of excellence is about having the right processes and habits that lead to success.

Lesson #4: Excellence in Agility. Change is inevitable. It's your response to change that determines the outcome. The better you become at manage change the less the stress of change will have on you. How do you respond to change?

Lesson #5: Excellence in Thought. "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he...," Proverbs 23:7. This bible verse is a testament to the power of the mind. Maintaining your focus will help you achieve excellence in working together, leadership, execution, and agility.

If you find yourself stuck in a cycle of perfection, then it's time to shift gears and pursue excellence.

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