Excellence is an Attitude

It is a journey

Excellence is an Attitude

It is a journey


For many years I have been searching for examples of excellence and the things that lead to excellent results. Through my search I have found that excellence is not something that can be acquired through training, but it is an attitude or way of thinking. Overall it is a journey from where we are to the best we can be in every aspect of our life.

Excellence is not something learned, but a mindset of relentless pursuit. Just understanding something does not by itself change our behaviors. It is the internalization of this knowledge and the resultant change in our approach and actions that puts us on the path of excellence.

That is not to say that we cannot learn about excellence. Quite the opposite. We need to be exposed to the concept of excellence to understand what it looks like and how we think about it. Much of achieving excellence comes from an understanding of quality and setting standards as a personal best and improving with each opportunity to perform.

When we take a look at the basic definitions of a skill versus an attitude we can clearly see the difference and gain more perspective on excellence as an attitude. According to The Merriam Webster dictionary, the simple definition of a skill is: “the ability to do something that comes from training, experience or practice.” They provide a simple definition of attitude as: “a feeling or way of thinking that affects a person’s behavior.”

The pursuit of excellence is something we have to cultivate from inside ourselves. It comes from the point that we find we are no longer satisfied with our results and seek to achieve the best we can in every area of our lives. It starts the moment we finally decide to put it all on the line and see what we are really capable of producing. It is the point that we take away the safety buffer of leaving something on the table and fully applying ourselves to a result that would be better than anything we have ever done before. Discovering and dealing with our shortcomings may be a rude awakening, but it sets the benchmark for doing better next time.

Nobody can give excellence to us and there is not a course we can take to get a degree in excellence. It is only something we can achieve from within ourselves by doing better than we ever have done before. We do not have to be perfect. That standard is unattainable, but we can push ourselves to do the very best we can. It is our own race, others can keep the score but we are the only ones that can measure the satisfaction.

So what are some of the attributes of excellence we can strive for everyday?

Make Yourself Valuable

It's about relationships

Make Yourself Valuable


Everyday it seems there are headlines that jobs are being moved offshore, automated or eliminated. We do not have to look too far in our personal networks to find someone that has been impacted by this trend. Globalization is causing a shift in resource alignment as businesses search for lower costs and larger markets. In addition the United States economy continues to shift from a manufacturing economy to a service economy causing a continual restructuring of business resource needs.

With the trend of the commoditization of labor due to a larger global market and the reduced time employees are choosing to stay in their current positions, business is not investing as heavily in career development training as in the past. The Chicago Tribune reported on a study conducted by The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) that “virtually all professional and career benefits tracked in the survey declined between 2010 and 2014.”

The news is not all bad for those of us who pride ourselves on adaptability. As it turns out, many markets for domestic white-collar jobs are growing. Forbes reports “Over the past decade, business services has emerged as easily the largest high-wage sector in the United States, employing 19.1 million people. These are the white-collar jobs that most people believe offer a ladder into the middle class.”

Our challenge is to adapt to this new market. In the service business the relationship of business to its customers has never been more important or valuable than it is today. With the economy shifting to a service-based model and social media redefining the communications model, relationships have greater emphasis than ever before.

Relationships have always been the key to business. Going back as long as commerce has been around, relationships have driven the market. Whether it is the personal referral of a local contractor for home repairs or the corporate connection to other businesses, it is driven by relationships. Even in the age of online shopping, it is often the opinions expressed in the reviews of the buying community that impact the purchase decision.

So what can we do to ensure our marketability in this changing market?

The Power of Thank You

The Power of Thank You

What if there were two simple words that when said with sincerity would mend broken relationships, open the door for considering opposing views, enhance our health and improve productivity? Would we use those words? What if we found that we could have all of those benefits and it cost us nothing, would it be worth it?

Two of the most powerful words in our vocabulary are thank you. Those two words have a proven healing and motivational power beyond compare and yet they may be the two most underused words in our everyday conversation.

There is a considerable body of study and commentary around this idea. The following are a few pointed examples:

According to a study published in the Harvard Gazette, the group of individuals involved with fundraising that received a visit from a director to thank them for their work placed 50 percent more calls than the group that did not receive an expression of gratitude in the same period.

Science Daily reports that in a study of 468 married individuals, the results indicated that the spousal expression of gratitude was the most significant predictor of marital quality.

The Wall Street Journal reports “Adults who frequently feel grateful have more energy, more optimism, more social connections and more happiness than those who do not, according to studies conducted over the past decade. They’re also less likely to be depressed, envious, greedy or alcoholics. They earn more money, sleep more soundly, exercise more regularly and have greater resistance to viral infections.”

The evidence is clear that the simple expression of gratitude in the form of thank you delivers significant results and yet is is often the most forgotten part of our conversation. When we offer a simple and sincere expression of our gratitude it serves to reinforce that we acknowledge the effort and accomplishments of an individual (or a group) and care about them as individuals.

Human relationships are too complex to be able to provide a simple explanation for how we react to each other. However, it is clear that relaying gratitude through simple expressions such as thank you seems to be a very powerful expression. And get this, it costs us nothing to say thank you. It does not diminish us as a person, in fact a case can be made that it increases our stature. It does not cost us any money, quite the opposite, it tends to increase productivity. It really costs us nothing and we are the direct beneficiaries of maintaining an attitude of gratitude.

So why is thank you so often forgotten? Frankly there is not a good explanation. The most likely excuse is that we become too busy. Everyday we are faced with countless challenges and issues and it seems they never end. Perhaps we become too embroiled in these issues to realize that it is the people around us that actually deal with those issues with and for us. Given the positive power of the use of thank you, this is not a very good excuse.

So here is the magic formula: