The definition of the pursuit of excellence is quite simple. It means being enthusiastic about your goals and performing certain actions in order to improve yourself. These actions include everything from raising the standards you’ve set for yourself to learning something new every day. If you’re curious what else it means and what you can do to join in on this pursuit, read on.
Living Your Life to the Fullest
Everyone is going to die at some point but the people who make the most of their lives in between birth and death are always the happiest. You can pursue excellence at every point of your existence and it helps if you’re enthusiastic about learning from past experience and mistakes. Remember that everyone makes mistakes. The important part is to learn from those mistakes so that you can do better in the future.
In fact, learning is a very important part of both life in general and becoming happier with your life. People who are consistently learning are more self-fulfilled, are more open-minded, and enjoy every aspect of their lives much more than people who never learn anything new.
There are also certain characteristics that everyone leading an excellence-driven life has in common. These include a hunger to:
- Work both harder and smarter every day
- Share everything you learn willingly with other people
- Impact the world in a very positive way
- Make a difference in the lives of others
- Do things better than anyone else does them
- Continuously pursue your dreams and passions
As you can tell from the above information, pursuing excellence can actually be considered a habit, not an act. The simple fact is that by making certain actions a daily habit, you are much more likely to be great at something. Once you find something that you love to do — with or without a paycheck — you can easily excel in it if you know what you’re doing.
What Exactly Is Excellence?
Naturally, the term “excellence” can be subjective. So what does it mean to be excellent at something? Does it mean that you’re in the top 5%? The top 1%? In addition, who sets this standard and who gets to decide? Fortunately, the answers depend on the people themselves because each person considers excellence to be something different.
Being excellent at something always means that you are more than just good at something. You don’t necessarily have to be better than everyone else on the planet to be considered an expert at something. However, you do have to be better than most people; this is easier to do than you think.
Even though there is no concrete definition of the word “excellent”, you’ll still know when you have achieved excellence at something. People will ask you questions about it and you will likely find that few, if any, other people know as much as you do about that particular skill or job.
In the pursuit of excellence, you will, however, need to make certain decisions, accept certain beliefs, and participate in certain actions if you want to achieve that goal. If you feel that you are pursuing something that most of the world cannot do or knows little about, you can easily become an expert if you follow some simple rules. In other words, it takes a plan.
Becoming the Expert You’ve Always Wanted to Be
When you love something enough, you’ll want to become an expert at it. Overall, this is a simple thing to do but it doesn’t mean that you can do it without a plan. When you’ve decided to seek excellence in an area of your life, there are things that you must do to be successful. These include the following 10 tips.
- Set goals that are very clearly outlined and defined. Be specific with them because this is the only way to measure and eventually meet those goals.
- When you promise something to someone or even to yourself, make sure that you follow through with it. This goes a long way in bringing you closer to your goal.
- Take care of yourself. You can’t have the energy you need to succeed unless you eat right, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep.
- Anticipate any setbacks that you might experience. Make sure that you know what to do when and if you run into any snags in your plans. This way, you will be more prepared for them.
- Stop making excuses. There are real reasons why you aren’t achieving your goals but once you figure out what they are, you can easily do something about them.
- Stop being so negative. Negative thoughts need to be pushed out of your head immediately. They will do nothing but cause you setbacks, not to mention that they put a damper on your self-confidence.
- Don’t procrastinate. If you have a goal, go for it now. Also, let go of the negative aspects of needing to gain something instantly and thinking that you have to be perfect in order to be successful. Do not be a procrastinator.
- Stay motivated. Everyone stays motivated in a different way. Find what works for you so that you can keep your motivation strong at all times.
- Never stop. Even if you suffer a disappointment, move ahead anyway. Be persistent regardless of what happens.
- Do not blame mistakes on someone else. Accept responsibility for your mistakes even if it means that you have to change your attitude.
As you can see, failing to meet your goals on time and making mistakes is something everyone deals with on his or her way to excellence. This doesn’t mean, however, that it should keep you down for long. Indeed, following the above tips goes a long way in helping you achieve excellence in a certain area of your life.
The Courage to Move Forward
Naturally, the pursuit of excellence is going to require a little courage on your part but the results far outweigh the sacrifices that you’ll have to make. If you need an extra dose of courage, all you need to do is concentrate on the following:
- If you have fears or feel any type of limitations, address them so that you can get rid of them. This is the only way that you can move forward with your goals.
- Even when you feel uncertain, you have to be willing to take risks but only risks that are the result of intelligent thinking.
- If you have any type of addiction — even if it’s watching too much television — tackle it so that it can be out of your life. It will only slow you down in the end.
- When you see an opportunity, take it and make the most of it. Never let a good opportunity get away from you.
- If you have friendships or even family relationships that are unhealthy, eliminate them from your life. This may sound harsh but it is a necessary rule for becoming an expert at something.
Simply put, you cannot accomplish your goals if there are insurmountable obstacles in your way. Whether those challenges are internal or external, they need to be addressed so that you will have one less reason for not moving forward and achieving your goals.
Pursuing excellence also requires that you have an open mind that is always expanding and learning. Listening to others and reading everything you can get your hands on just may expose you to a new idea or a newer and better way of doing something you’re already doing. An open mind is always best.
When you’re pursuing excellence, you should also remember that you are not shooting for “good”. You are shooting for the “best” you can be. Remember that you want to be better than everyone else at this, not just good at it.
An Expert at What?
When you’re considering pursuing excellence at something, many people assume that it has to be something huge. However, just because you’re not trying to find a cure for cancer or building a multi-million-dollar company doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve the excellence you are wanting. It can include everything from crocheting and knitting to jogging and even becoming an expert at marketing and promotion.
If you enjoy something and are passionate about it, you can become an expert at it. This isn’t to say that it is necessarily going to be easy but it is achievable if you know what to do to become that expert. This brings us to a topic that always comes up when people are discussing the pursuit of excellence in any area: biology versus learning.
Some famous composers wrote music at a very early age, which obviously proves that at least some of their ability was innate. But is this the most important factor? Fortunately for the average person, it is not.
Biology Versus Learning
Study after study has shown that learning is a more important factor than being born with a certain ability. This includes any extraordinary skill. Contrary to what many people believe, even child prodigies learn their skills the same way that other people do. The difference is that they learn them much earlier and usually work much harder at them.
Many people claim that a certain successful individual was just “born with it” as an excuse to justify the fact that they were unable to achieve the same feat. The research doesn’t bear this out, however. If you pursue excellence and have the right mindset, you can become great at anything. It also takes a few other important components, including the following three:
1. Gain a large amount of knowledge in that area. Whether it’s learning to sew or learning to play chess well, you have to learn everything about it to achieve the ultimate success. Learn everything you can about the skill you’re interested in and never stop getting better at it. Become detail-oriented so that nothing is overlooked or forgotten in the end.
2. Practice, practice, practice. Never underestimate the results that always come from a lot of practice. Reading and gaining knowledge about the skill is one thing but it won’t do you any good if you don’t practice that skill on a regular basis. Even with innate ability, regular and constant practice is imperative if you want to be the best at something.
3. You must have determination and a true commitment to your goal. People who want to be professional musicians don’t have to be forced to practice every day; they do it willingly. They want to be the best at something so they work on that skill daily. You can never give up if you want to be great at something. You have to commit to it every single day of your life.
Are these things easy? Not always, but remember that “if it was easy, everybody would be doing it.” You have to consider yourself special and unique. You want to be the best at something that most other people have little to no interest in. You can exploit that desire and make up your mind to be the best at it.
The Keys to Achieving Success
If you need some additional tips to make sure that you achieve the excellence you are after, here are some to consider. After all, the more you learn about pursuing excellence, the more likely you will achieve it in the end. Here are a few more things to remember when you’re searching for excellence.
- Always have integrity. Tell the truth and make your words mean something. In everything you say and do, be honest and positive.
- Think before you say something. In line with integrity, this goes a long way in making sure that your words are sincere and you are being as kind as possible to everyone.
- Make sure that you remain flexible. Remember, becoming an expert at something often requires doing something in a different way. Don’t be afraid to try new things.
- Have balance in your life. Be the best that you can be in all areas of your life. Keep a good balance between your mind, your emotions, and even your body.
- Always focus on the here and now. It is good to have goals but don’t get too far ahead in your thinking. Concentrate on what you have to do now, today, in order to reach those goals.
Life is filled with distractions and it is easy to turn your attention somewhere else. If you do that, make sure that your attention quickly comes back to your purpose and your goals. The pursuit of excellence requires a daily commitment to your goals so don’t let those distractions hang around for too long.
You also have to decide to do whatever it takes to be good at something. This is a characteristic not found in every individual. If you are determined to do anything and everything to pursue excellence, you are much more likely to be successful in the end.
The Parts of a Whole
Excellence is also achieved with many small actions that, when taken together, greatly increase the odds of being successful. You have to perform these actions on a day-to-day basis in order to achieve your goals. Excellence isn’t achieved in a certain period of time; in fact, it is an ongoing process.
It is the behind-the-scenes actions that make the difference when you’re pursuing excellence. These actions always include:
- How you carry yourself when carrying on a conversation with others
- Your daily exercise routine
- The company you keep on a regular basis
- The thoughts you choose to hang onto and the ones you discard
- The diet you follow; eating right matters
- The type of books you are reading
- How much money you invest in yourself; e.g., for classes, seminars, etc.
In fact, you should invest in yourself daily if you are pursuing excellence in a certain area. This includes the money you invest, of course, as well as the amount of time you invest in yourself. Daily investments will pay off in the end and you will be glad that they did.
The Pursuit of Excellence Versus Perfection
Many people assume that becoming an expert on something means that you need to achieve perfection but this is far from the truth. Excellence and perfection are two completely different things. Excellence is achievable; perfection is not. Perfection is also an attitude and it tends to be black and white with no gray areas. Excellence is a behavior and the thought process is different than that of people who seek perfection.
How does the demand for perfection differ from the pursuit of excellence? Below are 10 ways that it differs:
The value associated with the final goal. Perfectionists tend to consider the achievement itself as the most important factor. Those pursuing excellence value themselves over that achievement.
1. The way that mistakes are handled. Perfectionists often criticize their failures whereas pursuers of excellence will assess their mistakes to learn how to move forward.
2.Risk-taking and avoidance techniques. Perfectionists often do things in order to avoid failure because they can’t handle it. Pursuers of excellence will risk failure if they know that they’re doing the right thing.
3. Now versus later. Perfectionists want fast results whereas those pursuing excellence realize that being successful is accomplished by utilizing patience and giving themselves some time.
4. Enjoyment or not? Going after your goals is a journey that pursuers of excellence tend to enjoy, but that perfectionists usually do not.
5. What the goals are based on. Perfectionists tend to choose goals that are based on achievement whereas those pursuing excellence usually choose performance-based goals instead.
6. The reasonableness of the demands. Perfectionists often choose demands that are unreasonable and unrealistic. On the other hand, those pursuing excellence set challenging but achievable goals.
7. Where the satisfaction and recognition come from. Perfectionists usually seek external recognition whereas those pursuing excellence gain satisfaction from the inside when their goals are met.
8. The people relied on to achieve the goal. Perfectionists often view everyone around them as adversaries or enemies. Those pursuing excellence usually consider them partners on the journey.
9. Should versus want. Perfectionists consider their goals as something that they “should” do while people in pursuit of excellence consider them something that they “want” to do.
10. Naturally, not all of these characteristics apply to all perfectionists and all people who are pursuing excellence. However, it is good to keep these things in mind if for no other reason than to see where you are yourself when it comes to them.
Motivational Quotes About the Pursuit of Excellence
Finally, if you need some motivation to get started on creating and writing down your goals, here are some quotes that may help:
- “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” (Vince Lombardi)
- “The secret of joy in work is contained in one word – excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it.” (Pearl S. Buck)
- “Those who attain any excellence, commonly spend life in one pursuit; for excellence is not often gained upon easier terms.” (Samuel Johnson)
- “Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” (Steve Jobs)
- “Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal – a commitment to excellence – that will enable you to attain the success you think.” (Mario Andretti)
- “The pursuit of excellence is less profitable than the pursuit of bigness, but it can be more satisfying.” (David Ogilvy)
- “I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence I can reach for; perfection is God’s business.” (Michael J. Fox)
A Few Final Thoughts
The pursuit of excellence is neither impossible nor simple. Average individuals can do amazing things and all they need are a few simple guidelines and suggestions. You can accomplish excellence in both simple and extraordinary tasks and skills; you just have to know where to begin.
Getting started involves believing in yourself and committing to the goals you’ve set for yourself every single day. You cannot skip a day. In addition, the more you learn about pursuing excellence, the more likely you are to achieve it in the end.