Excellence is not as uncommon as many think. It is all around us in the form of athletes, leaders, parents, coaches, artists, and individuals like you and I. But what is excellence? And how do we reach it?


Definition of Excellence

Excellence is a “consistent superiority of performance.”


Common misconceptions of excellence

Excellence is not the product of a certain personality. Not all high performers are “odd balls” or obsessive. Personality doesn’t predict how well you will be able to perform a task.

Excellence is not is not gained through a quantitative increase of training. Simply training more does not increase competency or skill. More does not equal better.

Excellence does not come from some special inner quality. “Talent” is simply a label we put on competency. We tend to mystify excellence, thinking it comes from “natural ability,” thus creating an excuse for failure.


Where does Excellence come from?

Excellence is developed through an increase of quality over other performers. We have already discussed how quantitative differences (the time/effort of training) does not lead to increased skill. Excellent performers increase the quality of the little things they do each day. Excellence, therefore, becomes mundane.


What are the “mundane” aspects of performance?


Like excellence, motivation is mundane. Being motivated by outcomes (winning) is exciting, but leads to high anxiety and a quicker burnout. When we are motivated by the little tasks we perform each day (mundane) we keep coming back and work harder each day, thus increasing the quality of our overall performance.


Technique is also mundane. Refining our technique (mechanics) should be a daily practice. A mechanic does not change the engine of a sports car to make it go faster, rather he makes little adjustments that make it run more efficient, and faster.


Discipline is mundane because the highest performers in the world are normally very strict when it comes to training/work schedules and programs. Much of success comes from simply showing up day in and day out.


Attitude becomes mundane when we discipline ourselves to work every day on our performance. Showing up each day with a smile or a laugh increases the enjoyment of work/training. Performers with a positive attitude tend to be harder working and more satisfied when they reach their goals.

By increasing the quality of our motivation, technique, discipline, and attitude, we will naturally increase the quality of our performance.


In summary

Excellence is mundane. It is achieved through an increase in quality of the little things we do. Suddenly, as we increase the quality of the little aspects of our performance (and life) unaware spectators can only describe our abilities it as “talent,” but you and I know better.


This post is inspired by the article, “The Mundanity of Excellence” by Daniel F. Chambliss
Photo of Heather McPhie, courtesy of RedBullContentPool.com


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