Yesterday I was taken out for lunch to a common restaurant. Your relaxed sunday afternoon at a restaurant is not often taken down well with issues like poor service, cold food, guys at the table served one at a time in 7 minute intervals, etc etc. However this time it was different. We arrived slightly late, just as the lunch-time crowd was leaving and there was the perfect out-door seat just as the corner under a natural leafy shade. The waitress came and gave us stellar service, quite out of the ordinary for a sunday afternoon… this built onto the the train of thought:
Every now and then you encounter someone who demonstrates excellence on the job. It might be an exceptional waitress who anticipates your every need. Or a manager who generates both high performance and loyalty in his teams (this is just to balance the story) or it could be a teacher with a knack for unlocking the desire to learn in each student. Excellence, true excellence, is something we prize but seldom see. It’s a joy to encounter someone who is truly excellent at what they do. Why is that so rare? More importantly, how can you become known as a person who demonstrates excellence with consistency?
One comment that is heard time and again about those who demonstrate excellence is, “He/she is a natural at it.” They don’t seem to struggle to be excellent; it just flows. That is always a sign of motivation, and therein lies the first key: Motivation is required for excellence.
Motivation is what we like to do naturally. It’s like being right or left-handed. We don’t even think about it. We just write. The same is true for people known for excellence. They have a group of motivations that work in concert to help them perform at a higher level. Like all motivations, these were inborn and are as much a part of them as being blue-eyed or tall.
But there is a second key: Motivation can be developed. People who demonstrate excellence have identified their motivations and worked hard to develop them. They have added knowledge, skill, experience and practice to consistently produce at the highest levels.
By the way, there is a flip side to these two keys, and it is this: The best we can be with low motivation is adequate. No matter how hard we work and desire it, in the long run we will never be excellent at something without high levels of motivation in that area. In other words, if we toil in areas where we have low motivation, we resign ourselves to mediocrity.
Who wants to be mediocre? Who wants to be known as “adequate?”
Wouldn’t you rather have a shot at excellence? The first step to unlocking your excellence is to know what you do well naturally.