"Excellence n. superiority; surpassing goodness; extremely high quality."
As I work with, advise and coach faith-based business and ministry leaders across the country, part of my role is to teach timeless principles of excellence.
Today I was led to share with you three principles that drive excellence in your work and your life.
Principle #1: Excellence is a prerequisite—not a goal.
"Do you see a man diligent in his business? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men" (Prov. 22:29).
When excellence is a future goal, the journey can quickly become a mere hope, a dream, a someday event. It opens the door for tired excuses ("We'll get there one day") while giving people an out for any lack of significant progress ("We'll try harder").
It is therefore imperative that excellence becomes the minimum acceptable level of performance (a standard) today—not for some future date.
The key is to clarify your standards for a few key activities. If the standards do not represent excellence as the minimum, then you are no different than your competitors, and you remained mired in survival mode.
Often the standard is the goal! Standards of excellence are often a big step forward for you and your team. A primary focus of my consulting and coaching is simply to teach the skills, knowledge and attitudes necessary to reach the (excellence) standard.
Principle #2: Excellence is a habit—not an act.
"Be strong and very courageous, in order to act carefully in accordance with all the law that My servant Moses commanded you. Do not turn aside from it to the right or the left, so that you may succeed wherever you go" (Josh. 1:7).
You just sat down in your dentist's chair for your six-month check-up. As she approaches your mouth holding a razor-sharp teeth-cleaning instrument, she confides, "Yesterday I was really great—didn't make a mistake all day. Last night, though, was a bad night. Up late, did not sleep well, and today I'm a little tired and shaky. Just not on my game today."
What would you do? Say nothing? Pray? Or would you leap out of the chair and reschedule the appointment?
Excellence can only become sustained if it becomes a habit. Habits are automatic, the "I don't even have to think about it behaviors" behaviors that separate you from the rest of your competitors.
Bad habits are tough to break; good habits are equally tough to establish. To guide my retainer and coaching clients into habits of excellence, I coach them hard to create a short list of:
- What must I start doing?
- What must I stop doing?
- What must I continue doing?
With a clear, measurable and realistic Start/Stop/Continue list plus an accountability partner (coach?), you can jump-start and sustain your journey into excellence.
Principle #3: Excellence is a commitment—not an event.
"Brothers, I do not count myself to have attained, but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal to the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:13-14).
One of my favorite keynote and seminar training topics is to teach the difference between motivation and commitment.
Motivation and commitment are not the same.
Motivation satisfies a short-term external want. A monthly sales contests is a great example. Sales professionals will perform in an excellence manner over a short time (month) to receive the external want (bonus, trip, new car and so on). Yet inevitably, the level of sales excellence immediately drops after the contest ends.
Commitment satisfies a long-term internal need. When we uncover and meet the long-term needs of ourselves and our teams (recognition, security, safety, career growth, encouragement, honor and more), long-term excellence is sustainable and well within reach.
As I like to say onstage, "Motivation can jump-start excellence, but commitment is the long-term fuel of excellence. "
Fastest Way to Marketplace Impact
Performing your work with excellence is the fastest way to impact your marketplace for the Lord.
Imbed these three principles within your workplace, then get ready to stand before—and influence—marketplace kings.
Dr. Jim Harris is the author of 14 award-winning business books including Our Unfair Advantage: Unleash the Power of the Holy Spirit in Your Business. Download his FREE Five-Fold Leadership Survey. Connect with Dr. Jim on Facebook LinkedIn and Twitter.
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