Some may roll their eyes over this no-brainer concept, but it is so crucial to everyday success that I think it's worth its own article. “Commitment” and “Excellence” are two big words that weigh heavily in meaning when used together. They’re impact too powerful and impelling to the point that advertisers overuse them in their hackneyed slogans. In fact, such abuse can lead to the phrase’s gradual debasement and loss of meaning. The exacting discipline obfuscated by superficial marketing goals aimed at the gullible consumer. But what does it mean to be committed to excellence? Many may argue that the answer is subjective, so I lay out my perspective for the reader and I to be on common ground in the succeeding paragraphs.
To start with, I detest making commitments that I know I can’t see to fruition. And it’s not just because of the disappointment from unmet expectations, but from inauspicious consequences that arise thereupon. I know too well the bitter taste of being let down, the ruined plans and wasted resources (not to mention the loss of trust and credibility). Thus, at some point in my early youth, I vowed never to make promises I knew I couldn’t keep. From this, I further learned the valuable principles of foresight (predicting the most probable conflicts and scenarios to keep one’s goals realistic) and knowing thyself (perhaps best described in Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War”). Identifying potential problems enabled me to gauge the length of time a task would take. Concurrently, delineating the extent of my abilities regulated my estimated rate of work from crossing the bounds of reason. As I progressed in practicing these virtues, I realized that I was accomplishing more things at shorter time spans. At the time, I thought fewer commitments would make me a less effective individual, but in truth it made me more efficient. Enlightening these principles may seem to be, I was still faced though with a serious problem.
Ecstasy is the term I’d use to describe the high of soaring productivity, but I was still lacking. There was still something that wasn’t satiating my thirst for satisfaction. My output was exceeding expectations, but so was the number of mistakes. These mishaps, permissible or not, degrade quality. I knew I had to find a way to reduce these inaccuracies. Hence my quest for perfection began.
To state the obvious, excellence is not easy to uphold. As I learned, it stipulates a disciplined mindset that can only be achieved through proactive behavior and austere habits. Some may actually say this trite infamous excuse - “But all people make mistakes, don’t they?” - a disparaging statement that I found repulsive even as a kid because of the implied logic. A dish slipped from my hand because I was too busy day-dreaming. “But all people make mistakes, don’t they?” I ran over him because I was drunk driving. “But all people make mistakes, don’t they?” I got pregnant during adolescence because I was horny. “But all people make mistakes, don’t they?” I mean, you get the point. Right? Not to appear too Draconian, errors that are outside our circle of control can’t be helped. My solution in dealing with such matters is first becoming self-aware of any Amygdala Hijack, then remaining steadfast to one’s professional discipline and acting towards the best course of action. However, this topic is yet for another article for another day.
My personal dogma is to always think of a way to improve the quality of things and avoid making an excuse for it. At work, I practice this by repeating to myself over and over again that there is no excuse for a delayed job. Even my supervisor knows this habit of mine, and he will attest that I always exert maximum effort in meeting deadlines, whatever reason for the delay might be. In effect, and with all due honesty, I’m getting almost all of my tasks done on the dot. Even when my job isn’t delayed, I would still go the extra mile, sometimes to the bewilderment of my colleagues. And I would tell them – if I have spare time, why not dedicate it to improving quality?
Then again, excellence isn’t all about quality and efficacy. It is a multifarious discipline that involves our relationships with others and the way we think. I exemplify this by striving to be a cohesive team player in group projects (as true success never hinges on a single individual alone). As a result, me and my co-workers are thriving in a sanative working environment. Another practice to consider that stemmed from the Japanese is the well-known 5-S (Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Shitsuke, and Seiketsu), which involves excellence in work ethics. Consequently, our workplace hasn’t had any accident in 2 years!
In my opinion, there is no upper limit or ceiling to excellence. A commitment to excellence is equivalent to an incessant search for ways to move forward. Therefore, I take episodic breaks to reflect on what I can do to develop. Right now, as I type the words into this article, I can’t help but contemplate on whether my informal writing style suffices to the reader. Have I used any inappropriate hyponyms? Is there a way to better re-order the paragraphs? Should I have introduced this concept earlier? What do I change in myself so that I can hasten my writing pace next time?
I believe that faithful adherence to the philosophy above reaps benefits on its own. I may not be cognizant to the advantages for now but from a holistic point of view, things would certainly be worse had I acted any different.
These are but a few personal citations of how commitment to excellence always pays off for me. I am keen on reading your feedback, experience and stories. Maybe there are more points that are eluding my eye, and we could both learn from each other.
Thank you very much for reading!
All views expressed in this article are my own and do not represent the opinions of any entity whatsoever which I have been, am now, or will be affiliated.