A Call to Excellence

The days of delivering a half-hearted effort to gain results have come to an end. The ability to keep a customer based on the strength of your relationship and not the quality of your performance is also over. Average grades in school and on performance reviews, not to mention a lack of commitment in relationships are a liability and should not be tolerated. The demise of mediocrity has been forecast and foretold for a number of years and competition has made it a reality.

There was a veteran sales representative who was losing market share to a relatively new competitive sales person. When the veteran complained to the doctor and asked why the change in prescribing, the doctor replied, “I am using the new product because the representative made a strong case and asked me to use it.” The veteran rep thought his relationship and mediocre service would hold onto the customer’s loyalty.

Some unions are losing their clout because they are protecting employees who are lower performers. Many organizations are moving aggressively to pay based on performance to differentiate the top performers from those on the lower tiers. They want to reward their excellence with higher incentives.

Quality has been the entrance criteria in some businesses, education and relationships for a long time. When there is so much competition, why should the other party settle for less than the best? If you have given less than your best, this is the official wake-up call or call to excellence.

Excellence is the expectation is the title of a poem and song from my book and CD entitled, “Teach the children to dance”. They speak of our obligation to instill excellence into the minds, actions and character of our children. As a global village and marketplace, we will find that many businesses and individuals will drive superiority into their products and services. This will enable them to effectively compete in every endeavor. Excellence becomes a habit when you do the following:

  1. Benchmark your quality to the competition
  2. Generate new ideas as a common practice
  3. Measure what you treasure 

Benchmark

Benchmark or compare your quality against the competition. This involves more than collecting the best practices in your field. If you only collect and implement best practices, you will improve the quality of your operations, but will match the competition, not surpass their excellence. Excellence becomes a moving target. What was viewed as excellence yesterday may not be viewed as excellence today.  You want to be seen as superior, not equivalent in as many areas as possible. This will give you a competitive distinction over your peer group. 

New ideas 

Innovation and renovation are means to strive for excellence. Renovation will get you a reputation as a quality repairman, a great trouble-shooter. It shows that you have the insight and instincts to improve your situation. But the ability to innovate, create and solve problems with new solutions puts you in a league of excellence. Constantly look for ways to do something better. Ask yourself, “What else?” can be done to make this better. This mantra will help you to develop the mindset to constantly seek continuous improvement.

Daniel H. Pink in his book Driven suggests “the secret to high performance and satisfaction at work, at school, and at home – is the deeply human need to direct our own lives to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.” Find ways to incorporate this philosophy into your leadership and work environment.

Measure what you treasure

Consistently revise quality assurance steps to ensure the quality meets your highest expectations. Manufactures institute quality control measures throughout the production process.  Can you do the same to your work practices or personal behaviors to make a similar impression? Borrow another set of eyes and ears to help improve your performance. This may mean having someone else read your paper before you turn it in. Or you may have someone test you by asking questions before your exam. People use to say inspect what you expect or preview and then you review, to ensure you have the excellence you desire.  

Copyright ©2010 Orlando Ceaser

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