I recently found myself considering what living with excellence really means. One definition says that excellence is the quality of being outstanding or extremely good, greatness or the very best. It is a good question to ask oneself if you are being your very best self.
On my recent vacation to Hilton Head, SC, I had the opportunity to observe one of the Maintenance Employees cleaning the pool areas. With my coffee in hand, I had the perfect view of the pools and beach from our deck. I watched this man on several mornings organizing and returning pool chairs to their proper place. Each time he spent about 20-30 minutes just moving chairs.
While this is a paid part of his job, it occurred to me that much of what he was doing was completely unnecessary. You see, guests had moved chairs all over the pool decks and gazebo area during the previous day and did not bother to return them. Essentially they left it for someone else to do.
Why It Bothers Me
While I do not suggest that any guest did anything “wrong” by not returning their chairs; I also do not suggest that they were living with excellence. The mom with 2 or 3 kids in tow gets a pass, but fully capable, unhindered adults should have a higher standard. I would never dream of NOT returning the chair to where I found it.
The idea that someone else can do it because it’s their job is simply not in my “playbook”. I have lived by and taught my children to “clean up after yourself”. And if that means returning chairs, then so be it.
The real issue is not about the chairs but rather how our actions impact others and whether we even care.
Key Components of Excellence
Long ago I was impacted by a phrase in a book that said “Never let it rest until your good becomes better and your better becomes best“. (Author Unknown) The phrase caused me to realize that I wanted to live more than just a “good” life. I wanted to achieve the best in my life.
There are some key components to living with excellence. Character traits that will take you from good to best. There is a terrific article in the Learning Forum 8 Keys of Excellence that goes into detail about these traits. Below is an overview that sums up what I found most important.
- To live with excellence, you must have integrity. What we say and what we do must be the same. This is how we reflect our values. I want others to know that I am true to my word in public and in private.
- The words we speak have great power. I can lift someone up or bring someone down instantly with what I say. Excellence demands that I speak with positive intentions, being clear and honest with my words. Even in the face of criticism or correction, if done with excellence, it will be received positively and as direction. You cannot have healthy relationships without good communication.
- Life is full of distractions. As women, we love to multi-task. While this might be helpful in some situations, you cannot give your full focus to each task. Living with excellence requires being “present” so that you can do and give your best.
- Two of my favorite traits of excellence are commitment and ownership. To be committed means to be decisive and fulfill your commitments. This core value creates momentum to pursue and achieve goals. It also provides others the confidence that you can be depended upon.
- Ownership simply means taking responsibility for your actions. There is no hope of achieving excellence in your life if you are not willing to take ownership of your choices and their consequences, both good and bad. Ownership makes no room for excuses and blaming others. The truth is, regardless of who is at fault in a situation, if it affects you, then YOU have ownership in creating a resolution. Ownership impacts every area of our lives from relationships, education, fun and daily routines.
- Finally, excellence requires flexibility and balance. We must be able to recognize what is or isn’t working in our lives and then create change. To be so rigid in your routine that you cannot respond to changing situations will bring negative results. Every day we make choices that involve work, family, friends, hobbies and our health. Balance requires that we identify where to appropriately spend our energy and time. Finding this balance brings happiness, fulfillment and better health.
Living with excellence is found in the little things we do every day. Returning pool chairs and grocery carts to their proper place may not seem like a big deal, but it is a reflection of your core values. If you won’t take care of the little things, then you will never have charge over big things.
I always want to leave people or places better than how I found them. To have a positive impact on the world around me gives me great joy. We are all influencers and I want my influence to be one of excellence.