Excellence is not generic.
It is personal.
Ask yourself when was the last time you bought something (a product or service) that was excellent?
Yes, I know the British don’t like to complain (which may be part of the problem), but there as been an erosion of basic standards over the course of my lifetime (44 years) to the point where most people, on the provision side, don’t give a damn. In nearly all cases, they do what they are told as opposed to what is right or provide the minimum that they can get away with.
It makes me cross and not just middle-aged, grumpy-arse cross, but rather the type of annoyance that I know could be assuaged in a gnats breath if only people really cared.
Steve Pavlina in his excellent book Personal Development for Smart People talks about the medium of a job as opposed to the message. The medium is the title (lawyer, doctor, accountant); the message is what you stand for and believe in (even if you do not always have the opportunity to articulate it with full gusto).
I think, nowadays, that most of us have allowed the medium to determine the message. This sets up a conflict where you have to cow tow so much that you have forgotten who you really are.
Yesterday‘s post was all about habits and in many ways it would sadden me to think that you have to make excellence a practice that you try for 30 days. But I can well understand how you might need to start afresh in 2012 if you have allowed things to slip by dint of the pressures of billing, the stress of the job or the parlous state of the market.
Here are a few items that you might like to think about:
1) Your people skills. Are you the finished article?
2) If you are a leader, then your job is to create more leaders, not to garner more followers.
3) Are you doing something new every day? Something over the long haul that will make a difference to the lives of others.
4) Are you regularly stepping outside of your comfort zone?
5) Is every day a day devoted to business development?
6) Are you leaving everyone to their own devices? People need to feel you care. Don’t take anything for granted.
7) Have you plateaued or are you striving each day to be the best? Average is the acknowledged player. Is that you?
8) Have you given up on the idea of change? Is this all you want?
9) When was the last time you asked for proper feedback? Not the suck up type but the variety that usually ensues at an exit interview (“I must get everything off of my chest”).
10) How much time do you spend on your personal profile? What does your personal brand say about you?
11) Have you looked at your client list and thought long and hard whether you really are serving them to the best of your ability or just to make a buck or two? If you are acting for clients who you don’t like and they don’t like you, what are you or your firm prepared to do about it?
12) When was the last time you took someone to lunch from within the business without an agenda?
13) How often do you talk to your colleagues from one, two or three layers beneath you? You might be surprised what you learn.
14) What did you learn from 2011 that you can build on for 2012?
15) What will make you stand out in a sea of Ho Hum service?
The thing is with excellence that the list will never be complete.
And that’s just it.
It shouldn’t be.
Don’t confuse excellence with perfection. They are not synonymous.
Who really is the best judge anyway?
Excellence is not for the feint hearted.
It is exhausting.
It is relentless.
But it is the best bloody show in town. And I am willing to commit the rest of my life to making sure that even when I fall down with big dollops of mud plastered all over my face, that I will still be prepared to pick myself and start all over again.
Just remember it is the striving and not the arriving that is critical.
You are never done.
Hell yeah but it sure beats walking around in a soup of mediocrity.