No Worse Than Anybody Else

When did Mediocrity become the goal of personal and professional achievement? Tom Peters author of: In Search of Excellence, relates a story where he was working with some executive clients on becoming excellent. After some time talking about moving the organization more toward excellence, one executive spoke up. He said he was sick and tired of all this talk about excellence. After all his company was no worse than anybody else! There’s a slogan for your company, “We’re no worse than our competition!”What does excellence really mean to a leader? Is it even relevant today? As I look around whether it is industry, leaders, or just the lay worker it appears that the desire for excellence may not be so relevant. Somewhere along the path we may have lost our way. In the global marketplace we operate in now, what separates us from competition from anywhere else in the world? Price cannot be the only consideration. As a consumer I very seldom ever buy the cheapest item because I know that you get what you pay for.Excellence can be defined from many different perspectives. It can be product or price; it can also be process oriented. Take Johnson & Johnson for example. The leadership in this company has made the decision to only produce environmentally friendly products. There are very few people on the planet that wouldn’t appreciate this corporate philosophy. That is excellence! It is a characteristic a company, a leader, and the employee can be proud of. It’s a motivating achievement from corporate leadership. To know that you are a leader in any given area is highly motivating to the organization.


While it’s understandable that there are limits to what one leader can do, there is still room for excellence. If we take one thing and work on it until we’re satisfied it is now excellent we’ve taken one step closer to overall excellence in our journey. It doesn’t really matter so much what we choose to do in our lives only how well we do it. Why not choose excellence?Excellence is not only relegated to our professional lives. Excellence in our private or family lives is probably even more important. This is foundational to our character. How well do we relate to our family or people we know? Can we say we treat people in an excellent manner no matter who they are? As a pastor, mentor, and counselor I have had to work with some very unruly individuals. I have found that one can change the social environment over time utilizing compassion, kindness, and genuine interest. Everyone is potentially a diamond in the rough.Excellence in our profession should be a no-brainer. It should be the standard for every area in our work life. As leaders we must continually assess and reassess ourselves to make sure our best is truly our best. Is there something new I can learn? Is there a better method I could use to relate to those that work with or for me? What can I do to create an atmosphere of excellence around me? These are questions that should be asked. Excellence doesn’t just happen. It must be sought after and worked for.It’s the little things that matter. Making that presentation just a little cleaner; editing the memo one more time; telling that individual who works for you or with you that they’re doing a great job; these are small steps but they are in fact steps toward excellence. Don’t ever let “good enough” be good enough. If it’s not your best, do it over.Henry Kissinger once asked one of his aides to prepare of report for him. After Kissinger received the report he sent it back saying, “Redo it”. The aide redid the report and sent it back to Mr. Kissinger. Once again he received it back with the words “Redo it” written on it. After the third time he told Mr. Kissinger that he had completed the report as best as he could and it could not be made better. Mr. Kissinger replied, “In that case, I’ll read it now.”I’m lucky. My father taught me that only my best was good enough in everything and anything I did. He would tell me if I was not ready to sign my name to it so everyone would know I did it then I should continue to work on it until it was right. In some cases this meant extra work that potentially no one would ever notice. However, I knew it could be better and that made all the difference. It’s a great deal easier taking criticism when you know you’ve done your best.


There will always be room for excellence. When the world strives for mediocrity, being the best will make one stand out. Quality means a great deal to a great many people. Whenever we recruit individuals and/or train our team here in our company we always stress that we’re looking for the best because we want to continue to be the best. You can see it in the individual’s eyes. They want to be a part of something great, something important. Most people want to be encouraged to be great.It’s as easy to lapse into mediocrity as it is to float down river. If we don’t fight the current of mediocrity, we will succumb to it. America did not become great because we wanted to compete in the world markets and win. America became great because people pursued greatness and excellence! We did not get to the moon by being mediocre.Whether it’s our primary schools or business we must begin to revive the drive and desire for excellence. If we do not, we will lose our place as leaders in the world marketplace. There’s nothing wrong with attempting to be the best by pursuing excellence. Tom Peters’ In Search of Excellence has as much significance today as it has ever had.I guess I should consider the alternative though and that I may in fact be wrong about this. After all, I guess we are no worse than any other country!Why should or shouldn’t we pursue excellence?