Anything less than a total commitment to excellence is an acceptance of mediocrity! And mediocre performance takes place automatically in the absence of a 100 per cent do-or-die commitment to excellent performance of your work.Anything less than a total commitment to excellence is an acceptance of mediocrity! And mediocre performance takes place automatically in the absence of a 100 per cent do-or-die commitment to excellent performance of your work. There is no alternative to a life of excellence. Anywhere mediocrity reigns, you can never see success, greatness, significance, progress… there. Over 20 years ago, I purposed in my mind to keep pursuing excellence till I breathe my last. In my short journey on earth, I have come to see the vast difference between mediocrity and excellence. I do know that mediocrity cannot pull off anything tangible and I do know that excellence can achieve several laudable feats. This is why you cannot afford live below the bar of excellence in all you do.
One of the greatest motivators in the world of work is the commitment to excellence by the top people in any organization. Companies that are recognized as quality leaders in their fields attract and keep the best people. Excellent companies have high morale. People like to brag that they work for a company that is known for excellent products and excellent services. This is not debatable.
As the leader, getting everyone to commit to excellence, as well as leading by your own example of excellent work habits is one of the most powerful and important contributions you can make. The starting point in developing the discipline of competence, of excellence, is for you to select the specific areas and tasks where excellence is most important in generating higher sales and profitability.
Fortunately, determining this starting point is not complicated. You can break each job, including your own, down into about five to seven key result areas, seldom more. You can then give yourself a grade of 1 to 10 in each area to determine how good you or others are at the most important things you do. Evaluating where you are is the starting point of personal and business improvement.
The admission of weakness in a key result area is actually a sign of strength. It is only when you can admit that you are not sufficiently good in a particular skill area that you can begin to improve in that area. It is only then that you can learn how to make the most valuable contribution possible to your business. It is only when you admit that you could be better that you can learn and grow toward the fulfillment of your true potential.
Peter Drucker wrote, “The only skill that will be important in the twenty-first century will be the skill of learning new skills.” I like to pause a little and camp around this revealed secret and talk to you. I mean you. I advise that you do not just come on this column—week in week out without putting into practice everything I write here. Reading through my articles alone will not change your life. It is what you do with what I write that will change your life and what you do for a living. Every week, I receive phone calls and emails of those whose lives and businesses have changed just by reading through my articles and unwaveringly doing them. I am waiting for either your mail or call, too!
In their book, Competing for the Future, Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad pointed out that every business is built on core competencies, as is the career of every executive leader. They defined core competency as a skill that the individual or organization did especially well in comparison to others and was essential to the success of the business. The key question they asked was, “What core competencies in skill and execution will you have to have in five years to be a leader in your industry?” Whatever your answer to that question, you should begin immediately to develop, hire, or buy these competencies before your competitors do.
Striving for excellence is necessary for both the company and for you as an individual. Core competencies are the foundation of business success and of business and personal excellence. The axiom today is, “Whatever got you to where you are today is not enough to keep you there.” Whatever the reasons for your success today, you will have to be doing things much better one year from now if you want to survive, much less grow in your industry.
Start with yourself as a leader of either 10 or 100. Ask the key question that can most help you move ahead in your leadership: “What one skill, if I was absolutely excellent at it, consistently, would enable me to make the greatest possible contribution to my business?” Ask this question of yourself regularly and be sincere with yourself. Beyond being sincere with yourself about the question, make sure you commit yourself unwaveringly to the answer you are able to give to the question. Also, encourage each person—who reports to you to ask and answer same question and always motivate and challenge them to be consistently committed to the varied answers that follow the question they are asking themselves. Then ask it of your company overall: “What one skill or competence, if we were absolutely excellent at it, would most help us increase our sales and profitability?” Over the years, this has changed my life and company.
Buddy, make your mind up today to be the best at what you do personally, and then resolve to be the best in every area and sphere of the business that is important to your clients. Nothing will be more effective in helping you to rise to the top of your field of business and to become an excellent leader than for you to develop a reputation for excellence in everything you do. Remember, high finances and people of high value always gravitate toward excellence. Mediocrity repels high finances and people of high value. Always keep mediocrity from you, as the East is far from the West. Why? It is because mediocrity is an enemy of success and everything that is good in life, business and leadership.
See you where excellence-driven leaders are found.