I remember being intrigued by the logo of the Oakland Raiders decades ago. The silver and black colors radiated forth a symbolism of toughness. The slogan stated something that will forever ring in me: “Commitment to Excellence.” That one statement resonated in a way that each person should strive for. Be committed to excellence all the time. Perfection is not excellence, though they both seem the same.
No one can be perfect, but each person can be excellent.
They can be their most excellent self. In each field of endeavor, there are many ways to develop excellence. Getting to mastery should be a goal of becoming excellent in whatever you do.
Coach John Wooden stated that “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable.” I believe that this can also be a definition of becoming excellent. When you give your best effort each and every time, you can’t help but reach higher levels of excellence.
Here is my top seven ways to developing excellence in your life”
1. Engage in sustained effort. Excellence can never be developed without effort. You can’t simply sit around and believe that you will become excellent at anything. And it’s not an academic study either. You have to work at getting there. Like Coach Wooden stated, you’ve got to give it your best effort.
2. Strive for mastery. It’s been said that to master anything, it takes about 10,000 hours. This was first discovered through research by K. Anders Ericsson and Bill Chase in 1982 and later made famous by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers: The Story of Success (2008). Ericsson had focused on pianists and stated that the 10,000 Hour Rule could be transformed into any area of life.
3. Be fully committed to excellence. Like any endeavor worth doing, it takes commitment. If you’re not ready to commit, then you should do something else. You’ll never reach any level of excellence or mastery without the commitment to do so.
4. Challenge yourself on a continued basis. Through challenges you will make mistakes. Those mistakes will enable you to learn and become better at what you do. Avoiding mistakes is the biggest mistake of all. Being challenged is what drives the Marines to become the very best in combat engagement. It’s also what drove Steven Jobs to make Apple, initially, the best integrated home computer system ever as well as the other products developed later.
5. Be a lifelong learner. Excellence is never given to you. The top leaders continue to learn. Remember, learning comes in many forms, include experiential. Learn from others as well as both formal and informal education. That includes being a reader.
6. Set high standards for yourself. Determine what those are and strive to reach them. That includes whom you surround yourself with. Like the saying, “birds of a feather flock together” so should you. When we surround ourselves with the highest quality people in our field of endeavor you will start to become like them. This also pertains to what I said about challenges. These people will challenge you.
7. Know yourself. This is very important. If you don’t know yourself and that includes your weaknesses as well as your strengths, you’ll never reach any level of excellence. Become self-aware so that you will know what you need to help you reach the best you that you can be.
These are a few of my top ideas on excellence. Apply them into your own life and work at it each day. You will find that one day you will reach excellence.
Bob Choat works as a Peak Performance Coach, Trainer, Professional Speaker, Author and co-owner of Optimal Life Seminars along with Dr. Lori Shemek, Ph.D. He is focused on people in every industry reach a higher level of performance in their lives.