A Mystique Called ‘Excellence’!

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Excellent shot!

Excellent person!

Customer service excellence!

Excellence awards!

We come across the word ‘excellence’ or excellent so often. It is used in personal conversations, descriptions of events, places, skills and people.  And in the organisational context it is used almost everywhere – customer service, people orientation, and quality; usually finds place in vision, mission, and values… often so casually!

Sometimes I wonder whether we really understand the level of commitment, expectation and challenge associated with this simple word. I researched various meaning and understanding of the word ‘excellence’ and that act in itself has been intriguing in being both challenging and motivating simultaneously

I hope you enjoy this journey too… Let me reproduce some definitions

  • “Excellence meansgreatness — the very best; Excellence is being truly the best at something.”
  • “Excellence is a quality that people really appreciate, because it’s so hard to find. When you see excellence, you should appreciate the work that went into it. So much in the world falls short of excellence.”
  • “Excellence is the quality of being outstanding or extremely good.”

Isn’t that huge? Almost daunting… I will be scared of using that word loosely from now on. I will mark something as ‘good’, ‘very good’ and if I have benchmarks available then maybe ‘better’ and going further and taking risks to even say ‘best’. But ‘excellence! Phew! It is probably several notches higher than even ‘best’.  As ‘best’ could be achieved sometimes against relatively inferior benchmarks but ‘excellence’ is beyond all that…. it’s truly outstanding.

And I love this quote by Ronnie Oldham

“Excellence is the Result of Caring more than others think is Wise, Risking more than others think is Safe, Dreaming more than others think is Practical, and Expecting more than others think is Possible.” 

In the organisational context the promise of excellence is almost impossible in my opinion. It is a catchphrase, almost in vogue to use everywhere… often in a general, loose sense. I am not sure whether organisations really mean to deliver it as an experience to whoever they are committing – the customer, the employee, the stakeholders or the society. It is about committing towards building a culture… products, services, communication, processes and most importantly people! It’s about the last-mile-connectivity. All the boardroom talks and plans can be so easily junked by just that one interaction, one act, one oversight and one omission.

At the same time it is not the prerogative of elite few, it’s around us, sometimes from people we least expect from.Because…

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” 

– Martin Luther King Jr.

I will profile some acts, people and events where I have experienced excellence in this space soon. Till such time look forward to your thoughts on this.