I was going through some of my John Maxwell notes (and I have tons) and came across a passout he authored on "Excellence" -- it is simply one of the best things I've read and we are making this into a passout to give our team this week:
"Excellence" may bring to mind unmatched performance, unusual expertise, or consistent high-quality performance. In our minds, we often associate excellent with talent. To be the best, surely you have to be gifted, right? Experience has taught me that talent, while important, in no way explains excellence. In fact, the primary pathway to excellence has three main steps, none of which depends on talent.
1. FIND YOUR PASSIONS
"You are nothing unless it comes from your heart. Passion, caring, really looking to create excellence. If you perform functions only and go to work only to do processes, then you are effectively retired. And it scare me -- most people I see, by age 28, are retired. If you have to go to work only to fulfill the process and functions, then you are a machine. You have to bring passion, commitment and caring -- that's what makes you a human being."
-Horst Schulze, Former President of Ritz-Carlton
People of excellence love what they do. They have learned how to fuel the fire that keeps them moving. How do you spot a passionate person?
1. They work with their whole heart
2. They work with undistracted attention
3. They work with maximum energy
2. NEVER CEASE PRACTICING
"If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it would not seem so wonderful at all." -Michelangelo
Passion won't take you anywhere unless you combine it with disciplined practice. Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers, studies success and discovers that innate talent has a lot less to do with excellence than does practice. In face, he found that the successful people he studied (including the Beatles to Bill Gates) put in 10,000 hours of practice before making a big splash. Nobody cruises to the top on natural giftendess along. As Gladwell writes, "Practice isn't the thing you do once you're good. It's the thing you do that makes you good."
3. HONOR YOUR VALUES
"I desire so to conduct the affairs of this administration that if at the end, when I come to lay down the reins of power, I have lost every other friend on earth, I shall at least have one friend left, and that friend shall be down inside of me." -Abraham Lincoln
We all could give examples of talented, charismatic people who sabotaged their careers by abandoning their values. Passion and practice bring excellence, but character sustains excellence over time. Absence of strong character eventually topples talent. People cannot climb beyond the limitations of their character. Eventually the limelight of success brings to light the cracks in their integrity.