On the Road to Excellence

“A racehorse that consistently runs just a second faster than another horse is worth millions of dollars more. Be willing to give that extra effort that separates the winner from the one in second place.” - H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

This American author is renowned for two of his inspirational books, Life's Little Instruction Book, Volume 1 and 2 that made it to the New York Times Bestseller List between 1991 and 1994.

Hold on a second; why are we discussing horses here? Agreed, this is not a forum for horses or even horse-trading. However, we still compare the strength and power in comparison with horses when discussing our favorite automobiles, right? So, take it easy, Dear Readers, and let’s get to the point.

For all practical purposes, excellence is the name of the game. When you beat all the competitors, even the closest one, even by a whisker, you claim your right to the glory of a Winner. The best, the fastest, the sharpest, the most powerful and the most efficient performers stake their claim to excellence and therein lie their rewards.

“The road to excellence is always under construction” - Anonymous

Excellence is the recognition you earn upon completion of specific tasks in a far superior manner than everybody else. Excellent chefs prepare amazingly tasty, flavorful, and creative dishes that invite accolades from the world’s best-known food critics, and connoisseurs alike.

Excellent tailors design outstanding dresses for the royalty that most others could only imagine in their dreams. Excellent swimmers, athletes, archers, sportsmen, and sportswomen win Olympic Gold Medals and become global celebrities.

No matter what discipline we talk about, excellent performance earns the highest possible respect. At the same time, another fact comes to the surface that we cannot afford to take lightly. It relates to broken records. Yes, that’s right; records that get broken at regular intervals. No matter how well you performed today to earn the laurels, there is always someone else gunning for your position.

Each time we give an excellent performance, we set the qualifying mark for the next incumbent one notch higher. To beat our record of excellence, this person must take that achievement as the yardstick upon which his/her performance will be measured.

I am reminded of a statement made by a wise man about ‘runners-up.’ Instead of going into the merits (or implied demerits,) of not winning a Trophy for a 2nd place win, I would much love to give credit to this runner-up for the simple fact of providing the toughest fight to the Winner.

The role of this person lies in continually raising the bar higher, so the Winner has to keep training and performing at his/her highest caliber. Not only that, he/she also set own goals higher in the future. The end result is the glory of your name getting etched on the Trophy. Would you rather be in this position or stay contented with giving tough fights all your life?

Please allow me to borrow a quote from Oprah Winfrey: “My philosophy is that not only are you responsible for your life but doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.”

How can you dispute the wisdom of such a super-successful Media Personality, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist and highly acclaimed people’s person? In the above words, she has given us one of the clearest and the most concise directions for continued success. We all know the age-old wisdom: ‘Output is directly dependent upon input.’

More money you deposit in your bank account the more you will be able to take out. Have you ever seen a bank lend money to someone broke? Not me! However, the human capacity commands an immense amount of untamed energy that can circumvent the toughest obstacle, dive to the deepest depths of oceans and climb the highest mountains, touch the galaxies and create unimaginable gadgets. It knows no limits whatsoever.

Until and unless we make it our life’s mission to make each day of our life more productive than the one before, there is not much chance of attaining excellence in any field.

The Athletes, the Sports persons, the Mountaineers that plan on climbing the highest peak in the world, the super successful Leaders, Executives, and Entrepreneurs, they all work diligently to make gradual progress, day after day, and keep building on their minuscule gains in small steps. The accumulated effect of such progress brings them to the cusp of glory, not ‘Chance.’

There is an old Chilean Proverb: “Small Steps Take Us Far.” No wonder, our quest to improve our performance level just 1% each passing day can double our efficiency in less than four months. Is there any other method that you know of and would like to share? I am all ears!

The above proverb teaches us the immense value of consistency in life with a focus on daily improvement. For all practical purposes, this is the ONLY vehicle we can ride on the road to excellence, no other. At the same time, let us also not forget another essential truth about this road: there is no end. It is an endless road that offers fantastic rewards to those that continue the journey. In this journey, you must maintain your cutting edge by ensuring superb quality of your performance.

The quest for excellence is neither a race nor a competition. It is also not a reward that someone can bestow upon you in recognition of a political donation or other such favors. It is the process of a continued hard-fought battle against your own productivity. Soon you show signs of slackness, someone else will beat you at your own game and earn the glory.

On a final note, please allow me to invoke the inner spirit, lurking somewhere within your own conscience, that wants to beat all odds and create an outstanding persona out of your average or above-average demeanor. You would quickly realize the simplicity involved in making graduated gains at a regular pace to go from ordinary to extraordinary, then move on to outstanding before riding the bandwagon of excellence.

I have been more than blessed in my life as my parents taught me some precious lessons through quotes and philosophies expounded by some of the historically immortal achievers. One of these lessons goes like this: “Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it. Autograph your work with excellence.”


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