Redefining Excellence

Excellence is a term that gets thrown around a lot today. I hear people talking about service excellence, sales excellence, leadership excellence and even operational excellence. The problem is that too many of these people have the wrong idea regarding what excellence really is. More often than not, when someone uses the word “excellence,” they’re really talking about “perfection.” The idea of excellence is used to refer to the epitome of achievement – the highest state of performance.

There’s a problem with that definition of excellence. If you aspire to perfection, you will never reach your goal. You’ll always be frustrated, and so will your employees.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a firm believer in having goals. But in order for goals to be effective, they have to be attainable. They need to provide a stretch, but they have to be within reach. Attaining such a goal provides a sense of accomplishment and the energy to stretch for the next one.

So I’d like to propose a new definition for “excellence.” Here it is;

“True excellence is rising above what you ‘should’ be to become what you ‘could’ be.”

You see, excellence is not perfection. Excellence is growth. Excellence is reaching a level of performance that’s eluded you in the past. Excellence is accomplishing something that you never have before.

This new definition of excellence says that while perfection is impossible – and we all know it is – the status quo isn’t acceptable. The idea of excellence requires that I move beyond my current state of performance even though it might be acceptable. The organization may say that a certain level of performance is expected – it’s what I should be doing. But a quest for excellence says perhaps I could be doing more than that. Striving for excellence allows me to set goals for improvement, celebrate that success, and then push the boundaries once more. And I’d much rather be excellent than acceptable.

What defines excellence for you?

What defines excellence for your team, department or business?

And what will you do today to achieve true excellence?

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