The Secret to Being Excellent

Excellence in your business is critical to business success and longevity. Without excellence your business becomes just another business in a sea of businesses. Without excellence your business will fade into mediocrity and commoditization . . . which is the race to extinction!

Conversely, excellence will differentiate you and your business. Excellence will open up opportunities and doors that are not available for the “generic masses.” The higher your level of excellence, the more business opportunities you will have!

How to Become Excellent

Tony Schwartz wrote a blog for Harvard Business Review entitled “Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything”. In this blog he defines the following six things he believes are required to become excellent in any endeavor:

  1. Pursue what you love. Passion is an incredible motivator. It fuels focus, resilience, and perseverance.
  1. Do the hardest work first. We all move instinctively toward pleasure and away from pain. Most great performers, Ericsson and others have found, delay gratification and take on the difficult work of practice in the mornings, before they do anything else. That’s when most of us have the most energy and the fewest distractions.
  1. Practice intensely, without interruption for short periods of no longer than 90 minutes and then take a break. Ninety minutes appears to be the maximum amount of time that we can bring the highest level of focus to any given activity. The evidence is equally strong that great performers practice no more than 4 ½ hours a day.
  1. Seek expert feedback, in intermittent doses. The simpler and more precise the feedback, the more equipped you are to make adjustments. Too much feedback, too continuously, however, can create cognitive overload, increase anxiety, and interfere with learning.
  1. Take regular renewal breaks. Relaxing after intense effort not only provides an opportunity to rejuvenate, but also to metabolize and embed learning. It’s also during rest that the right hemisphere becomes more dominant, which can lead to creative breakthroughs.
  1. Ritualize practice. Will and discipline are wildly overrated. As the researcher Roy Baumeister has found, none of us have very much of it. The best way to insure you’ll take on difficult tasks is to ritualize them — build specific, inviolable times at which you do them, so that over time you do them without having to squander energy thinking about them.

So, how do you translate this into your business?

How to Build Excellence into Your Business

  1. Hire people that are already passionate about their work. They come “pre-loaded” with one of the key components of success. This is so much more productive than trying to instill passion into an lethargic worker!
  2. Build a culture that encourages continual learning. Fill your company with employees that are continually learning and becoming better!
  3. Build a culture that constantly looks for business improvement. Continuously improve your business in all areas. Do not allow your business to stagnate!
  4. Teach your employees to do the hard work first. Review Cal Newport’s book Deep Work and apply this to your business work practices. Buy a copy of this book for your staff and review it with them.
  5. Provide simple, grounded feedback to your staff frequently. You should provide feedback whenever you see your employees doing things well and whenever you see an opportunity for improvement. This probably means feedback at least once a week . . . NOT once a year!
  6. Provide adequate vacation time, sabbaticals, daily break times, etc. to reduce stress rejuvenate your workforce
  7. Build processes, tools and procedures wherever possible to make work easier. Automate activities wherever possible to reduce workloads while driving consistency and repeatability.

Take Action

Do a review of the ideas outlined above and build an action plan to implement these into your business culture. Prioritize your action plan and assign owners to each component. Reward your employees for being and building excellence. It is amazing how quickly ideas and cultures can grow when employees are rewarded for the desired behaviors!

Finally, take a look at these related articles and see what else you can do to instill “excellence” in your business:

Excellence is an art won by training and habitation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but rather we have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then is not an act but a habit.” Aristotle

What have you done in your business to build a culture of excellence? Leave your comments below!

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