When visiting a potential partner organization yesterday, I noticed that a great quote was front and center on their conference room’s whiteboard. The quote read: “Excellence is not a skill … it’s an attitude!” (Ralph Marston is quoted as saying this quote via a quick search online, though I believe its a quote that can be attributed to many leaders and leadership experts who have lived, spoken, and written over the decades and centuries).
No matter who said this quote, its an important quote to remember in whatever environment you find yourself in. For a leader its important because “just doing good isn’t good enough.” My father drilled into my brother, sister and I that:
there will always be someone faster and stronger than you. There will always be someone smarter and better looking. There will always be someone taller than you, and richer too. You can’t control this. What you can control is how hard you work. Never let another be a harder worker and more dedicated than you.
I believe in hard work, but I also believe that there are times when you can get the same amount of work done in less time, and my dad believes that too. That is called being efficient. I believe it is when hard work, dedication, and investment are met together with a sense of purpose that excellence is realized as an attitude.
It’s hard, if not impossible, to be excellent at something you don’t enjoy. Because how can you be dedicated and fully invested in it? Then it becomes just hard work for the sake of work, and not for the sake of what you are actually doing. The work becomes simply a means to an end, and is not really a vocation then. Hmm… There is much to ponder here.
What are your thoughts? Is this a slippery slope, or do you think this logic about excellence has potential for leadership and vocation?