Excellence is doing a common thing in an uncommon way – Booker T. Washington
What is Excellence?
The word ‘Excellence’ has its roots in the Latin word ‘excellentia’ which is derived from the verb “excellere” (in English, excel) which means — to elevate, to be exceptionally good at or proficient in an activity or subject.
Booker T. Washington opined that “excellence is doing a common thing in an uncommon way.” It is the quality of being outstanding or extremely competent at whatever we commit ourselves to. It also means being distinguished for superior merit of any kind, of surpassing character or quality, uncommonly valuable for any reason, remarkably good.
Excellence is a way of life; it is a state of being. It means having a quality of character, integrity, attitude, mastery and ability to do anything extraordinarily well. Excellence is a consistent drive and dedication to produce great work and to live an outstanding life.
Most people think that living an excellent life is pursuing perfection but this can’t be any farther from the truth because perfection is unattainable, we can only come close.
Excellence is ensuring that it is only the best value possible that you are both giving as well as receiving and nothing less. The reason I say receiving is that we tend not to demand for the best in our lives, relationships, careers and so forth thus end up settling for less.
To not pursue excellent life is to be mediocre and I do not think that anyone was born to live a life of mediocrity. We are literal, walking miracles walking the earth and paraphrasing the words of Marianne Williamson, have no business playing small. Therefore you ought to aspire to live a life of excellence because we are made to shine, to live up to our optimal potentials, and to be our best selves in whatever we do.
Living an Excellent Life
To live an excellent life it is important to do these three things:
1. SET YOUR STANDARDS
Being excellent is intentional. Refuse to pass off mediocre one-off performances as the best you can do. Most people ‘settle’ and are content with being just good enough which in the end serves no one or purpose. To be excellent is to take a standard, raise the bar, and smash right through it. Les Brown said: “To achieve something that you have never achieved before you must become someone that you have never been before.”
To set yourself apart from the pack; you must have a desire to excel, conduct a self-evaluation, develop a value system that guides your words and actions, map out your goals, set high standards, benchmark yourself against the best and leave mediocrity in the dust. Be the one who lives an excellent life of honesty, integrity, and discipline while being committed to delivering excellent work all the time.
2. BUILD A CULTURE
Excellence is achieved by consistency, a level of mastery, and value are given over time. It means delivering quality work and results every.single.time. Continuously seek opportunities to learn. Also, gravitate towards like-minded people who live and demand excellence in all they say and do. Get better and achieve a level of mastery at what you do so you will be prepared to take opportunities when they show up.
Even if you do not currently love what you do, still decide to do it as excellently as you can because it will give you the resilience to deliver exceptional results when you are eventually able to do what you love. Collin Powell sums it all up neatly with this quote “If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.”
3. PUT IN THE WORK
I’ve come to understand that mediocrity isn’t just unwillingness to change but rather a lack of will to put in the work. Diana Waring said that “the difference between mediocrity and excellence is often a matter of effort.”
Excellence is not just producing great results but to repeatedly produce those results over and over again. So, if excellence is being outstanding, you must make results in your goal. Be all-out, work smart, and hard. You must be disciplined and focused on what is important while eliminating unnecessary distractions. Be committed to doing excellent work even when you don’t want to. As you brilliantly deliver every time, you attain a state of excellence.
An anonymous quote says “Excellence can be attained if you care more than others think is wise, risk more than others think is safe, dream more than others think is practical, and expect more than others think is possible.”
Excellence is not unachievable neither is it a day’s work. It is like a racetrack, the further you go; the more you have to keep going. Thomas S. Monson says “Once you’ve experienced excellence, you will never be content with mediocrity”. Excellence is a lifestyle, a drive and a sense of responsibility to continue to deliver and exceed your achievements therefore as a result you must decide to give your hundred percent. Always.
Re-orient your mind and make a decision to live a life of excellence. To always be excellent regardless of your status, age or beliefs. Trust yourself, develop strategies, innovate, evolve and reevaluate your steps along the way. When excellence becomes your trademark, success will naturally come to you.