Excellence or Nothing

“Unreliable.  Erratic. Inconsistent.  Not sure of himself.  His performance varies from day to day; most of the time we’re unsure of the person who will show up- the excellent team player, or the mediocre, vacillating and excuse-giving team member like we’ve seen over the past three weeks. He seems to have lost some of his verve and confidence.  If things do not change quickly, we’re thinking of letting him go.”

Imagine receiving such a feedback in your quarterly performance review; and imagine knowing in the depths of your being that the assessment is accurate and fair.  Imagine knowing that your colleagues have figured you out- that you have what it takes to perform at a superior level, but you simply cannot make up your mind to do so.

It is important to have one mental mode of operation.  It is important to begin each day knowing not just what you are going to do, but also that you have resolved to find the how, to find a way out. It is important for your mind and spirit to be settle on this issue: that you both know what you want, and that it is possible to achieve it. That is to say, that there is a how available to you. Figure it out.  The what is your goal, your to-do list, the tally of things you hope to get done that day.  The why is the all-important first step. The how is also vital; the how is not just the mechanics of doing, but also the level of excellence employed in the process.

It is vitally important to train yourself to accept that you have only one mode of operation: 100%.  Don’t leave this open for discussion.  Don’t allow yourself to get bogged down in a debate with yourself on how you’ll you tackle each day or task, debating whether you’re only partially or fully committed. That would be an exercise in mediocrity and futility.

Every day when you wake up, and in whatever undertaking you plan to engage in, your spirit should be settled on how you’ll pursue the responsibilities in front of you- with 100% commitment and dedication.  No shirking. No dodging. No rationalization. No debate. 100% or nothing. 99% is not enough.

Think of it this way: if you’re already giving 70%, or even 80%, why not just commit to go all the way?  Why invest 70% or 80% and lose, when you could add the remaining 30% or 20% and be victorious? What do you have to lose by operating at 100%?  Nothing. What do you have to gain by committing to perform at 100%?  Everything!

Granted, we will never win every battle we face, even if we give it our best; but we’ll certainly win far fewer tests if we fail to give our best, to render optimum excellence.  And the first step to that optimal performance is a decision; we must decide whether we’re in or out- there’s no middle ground.  We must settle the argument in our minds on how much effort we’ll put in; that we’re committed to “leaving it on the dance floor”, like the saying goes.

And we make this decision when we first arise from bed, even before we approach our work. When we sit down (or stand) to work, our mind must be settled, at rest on the spirit with which we tackle our work and our day: 100%. Our colleagues, clients, business associates, friends, and family members will thank us for it. And we will be happy too!


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