Excellence – noun. the state of excelling; superiority; eminence:
Are you someone who strives for excellence? If you are reading this post, chances are you are :D. Personally, I firmly believe that all of us are here to achieve greatness; to be the best that we can be and to shake and move the world. There is nothing more satisfying than overcoming a challenge that was previously deemed insurmountable; nothing more satisfying than looking back at who you are now and realizing that you have grown much more than you thought you could. To be human is to live to our highest potential.
Like you, I’m someone who endlessly strives for excellence. Excellence is one of my top values in life and is something which I hold myself towards ever since I was a kid. When I was in school, I was constantly striving for the best; I graduated from my business school as the top student in my major (I was in marketing). In my career, I secured placement in the best company in the world for marketers, after being pit against hundreds of applicants and evaluated in multiple rounds of tests and interviews. Even as I ultimately chose to quit my corporate job last year, it was a decision made to wholly pursue my passion in personal development and helping others to achieve personal excellence.
In my years of pursuit of personal excellence, I have found 5 timeless steps in ensuing my own growth which I’d love to share with you here and I hope will be useful to you:
1) Believe in Yourself
Self belief is the utmost important step. If you don’t believe in yourself, how do you expect anyone else to believe in you? If you want to achieve greatness, you have to first believe that you are capable of doing it. Know that there is no one else but you who can attain what you want to do. As Napoleon Hill puts it, “What the mind can conceive, it can achieve”.
One of my favorite stories is Sylvester Stallone’s real-life rags to riches story. Before he was propelled to stardom with the Rocky series, he was living out what others would deem as a ‘paltry’ existence as a wannabe actor. Because of his birth complication where he was born with a side of his face paralyzed and a slurred speech, he was rejected by countless casting agents in his quest for his dreams. At some point, he became poor as a pauper, and even his wife left him. But he never gave up. He firmly believed that he would be able to make it as an actor – not just an actor, but a movie star. And he finally did – today, he is an internationally acclaimed movie star, film director, producer and screenwriter. This would never have happened if he gave up his self-belief.
2) Keep Building Your Skills
The path to excellence is a continual one which requires constant upgrading and skills development. It’s said that it takes someone 10,000 hours of practice to reach the top in his/her discipline. Have you invested your 10,000 hours to develop your skills? If you haven’t, when can you start investing the time? If you have, how can you invest another 10,000 hours? No matter how much time and effort we have already spent in developing ourselves, there will always be opportunity to improve and be better.
Think about the skills which you possess at the moment as well as skills which you would like to have, but have yet to acquire. For example, some of the skills which I target to build for the upcoming few months are (1) Writing (2) Public Speaking (3) Productivity (4) Discipline (5) Organizational Skills (6) Badminton. How about yours?
3) Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
When you are out of your comfort zone, you are already growing by default. Comfort zones are called comfort zones because it’s where you feel safe and comfortable. When you stay in an area of comfort, you subject yourself to things you have become accustomed to – which leads to little or no growth. On the other hand, if you move beyond that area of comfort, even by a little bit, you start facing things which you are not exposed to before. This new context and new stimuli triggers off a reprocessing process in your mind as you adapt to handle them. This means growth.
What are your comfort zones when it comes to your work? Environment? Diet? Daily routines? Places you go to? Clothes you wear? People you hang out with? Your goals? How can you change them around just to experience something different? How can you push yourself to an uncomfortable zone so you can grow? The more uncomfortable you feel about something, the more it means you are growing.
4) Be Around the Best.
I love this quote from Jim Rohn, which I feel sums this up – “You are the average of the five people you are around“. Who you are with has a role in affecting who you become. If you hang around people who are committed to excellence, sets themselves up to achieve nothing but the best, you are going to emerge a different person compared to if you hang around people who are jaded and are constantly lamenting about life. Cut yourself loose from people who don’t support you and increase your contact with the people who do. Above all, connect yourself with the best – the cream of the crop. If you have a goal to be a chef with your very own restaurant, start linking up with the top chefs of your country, or even possibly the world as you move forward on your endeavors. Even if it’s not possible to be personal friends, you can be connected with them by virtue of exposing yourself to outputs of their work – books, shows, interviews, etc. You will find yourself improving by leaps and bounds just from framing yourself together with them.
5) Set Huge Goals.
Emphasis on the word huge. Not the normal, standard goals which you know you will definitely be achieving with a certain amount of work and effort. We’re talking about the humongous goals which make you feel somewhat nervous and uncomfortable on whether it’s possible to even attain them. These are the goals which will really make you stretch yourself, soar, and then beam with an incredible lot of satisfaction when you do achieve them. Even if you don’t eventually get to nail them in the bag, the most important thing to realize is you have grown a lot more than if you set puny goals and achieved them. Be focused on the amount of growth you get and don’t be attached to the specific outcomes, because the outcomes don’t define who you are – Who you are define who you are.
Do you have any other personal ways / strategies to achieve personal excellence? I’ll love to hear from you Please share them in the comments section!