Martin Luther King Jr, the renowned civil rights campaigner, once said:
“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or as Beethoven composed music, or as Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause and say, “Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”
That is so, but unfortunately, most people will not have the benefit of such a glorious epitaph. And so many people will not even have such a glowing, superfluous commendation while alive.
Too many people are members of the nameless crowd, living an average life, and too few dare to answer the call to excellence.
Make no mistake about this: the world does not celebrate mediocrity. The never-do-wells may receive a few sympathies but certainly no honours. Honour has always been for those who are able to reach for the best within themselves and write their names on the pages of history.
It’s in you…
I’ve always believed that no matter where I am now, I can create and maintain a culture of excellence in whatever I do, and in whatever I’m involved in. I can maintain high standards in my personal life, career, business and any endeavour.
It begins when I look within me.
And I do believe with every fiber of my being that I can rise above an average, mediocre life. I can be the best, or one of the best.
You can be known by your skills so much that you do not require introductions. You can be too skilled to be ignored; too competent to be overlooked. But the starting point is looking inwards. What is behind you and what is ahead of you are absolutely incomparable to what lies within you. It’s inside. Bring it out!
Best is better!
Excellence is that grade of optimum quality. It is top grade. It is not what you do but how you do it. It is the finishing; the finesse. Each of us – all of us – can become people of excellence. Programming for excellence involves taking deliberate steps or course of action. It first begins with a choice. Not a choice between excellence and mediocrity, but a choice between excellence and average; a choice between best and good.
Until we desire to move beyond what is acceptable and good, excellence will not be compelling, or even necessary. Excellence does not happen to people. People make it happen. It’s a choice. Once you have made up your mind to excel, nothing can stop you. Decide that from today, nothing but the best is good enough for you.
The queen of Sheba visited King Solomon. When she saw the palace he built; the food served on his table; the living quarters of his officials; the organization of his palace staff and the uniform they wore; and the servants who waited on him at feasts – she was breathless.
My personal website will soon be up. But I’ve had one built for a faith-based charity I started in Huddersfield, UK. I wonder what peoples’ impressions are when they visit that website: http://www.rccghuddersfield.co.uk. And have you thought about what their impressions would be after they’ve visited your website?
How we present ourselves says a lot about us. Our work is a reflection of ourselves. We should always strive to autograph our work with excellence. These include our products and services, those who represent us, and the materials we send out.
So whether your staff is presenting your services to a potential client; or you’re speaking at a seminar to professionals in your industry; or you’re introducing your projects to the board of directors of a company for approval; or you’re crafting a proposal to the Government for endorsement – you gotta spice it with excellence. I’m not writing as someone who has completely mastered the arts and rudiments of excellence. I’m writing as someone who is learning daily and making concerted efforts to move from good to best.
A person who wants to bring excellence to bear on all he does will always insist on quality in everything.
He will have absolutes, knowing that whatever little leaven he allows will sooner or later leaven the whole dough. And the difference between good and excellence is attention to details.
There will always be a better way to do things. “Better” is a poor result where “best” is available. Best is better!
So, whatever you do…
Dr Martin Luther King Jr mentioned a street sweeper, a painter, a musician and a poet. I can add that whether you are an employer, a contractor, a trader, a student or a preacher, excellence is possible. Show excellence when you are given a budget to plan. A solo to play. A report to draft. An opportunity to preach. A programme to present on radio or TV. An article to write. A legal case to argue. A piece of art to produce. A lesson to teach. A car to fix. A meal to cook. An insurance to sell. Or a magazine to edit. The quality of your work reveals who you are. You are judged by what you churn out. If you want to be a person of excellence, then you will always need to look beyond the big picture to the fine details.
Dennis Inyang, in his article titled ‘Programming for Excellence,’ says we all can create excellence in what we do if we would do the following:
(1) Never compromise.
Insist on quality in everything. Have absolutes.
(2) Be focused.
Specialization brings distinction. Don’t be a Jack of all trade and a master of none.
(3) Choose your friends well.
If your friends are people of excellence, they will encourage you to press for the best. Avoid scorners.
(4) Get exposed.
Travel. Interact. Read. Especially magazines and Journals. Until you step out of your small world, you may not even know what is possible.
(5) Select your staff.
Don’t hire people on sentiments, or on grounds of compassion. Look for the best.
(6) Keep training.
Sharpen your skills. Upgrade. Improve. Attend seminars, workshops, symposia and conferences. Invest. Excellence costs, but you will be paid a million times over with time. You will get astronomical turnovers on those investments in yourself.
(7) Assess yourself regularly.
You cannot improve unless you know what to improve on. Have a feedback mechanism.
(8) Don’t stop.
Excellence is not a destination, but a way of life. There should never be a time you have it so much that you need it any more.
You may not attain excellence now in your life, or in the things you do. But don’t lose hope. Keep hope alive. Keep striving; keep going. When you fall, fall forward. And when you get up, light your candle of hope. Keep it burning. Soon and very soon you’ll get there. And when you get there, get better. And when you get better, keep getting better till you make it the best. Or you become the best.
And after you’ve eventually made it the very best, or become the very best…
…Make that best better!
What steps are you taking to attain excellence in your life and in what you do? Would you share your experience here? What are your thoughts about this article? Post your comments here.