We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. – Aristotle
Act Habit of Excellence
A dictionary definition of excellence states that it is the quality of being outstanding or extremely good or superior at something. In other words, whenever you excel at something you are performing at a level far above what the average person is able to give to that particular skill or situation. This is all well and good, however, it doesn’t really provide us with anything practical or actionable to work with. For instance, how will you know when you’re excelling at something? What are the specific indicators? Or, what does it really feel like to excel at something that is far beyond what other people are able to accomplish?
These are not easy questions to answer because excellence could very well be purely based on perception and the expectations that one holds of oneself in very specific situations. For instance, my definition of excellence in a particular situation could be very different when compared to your definition of excellence. And yet both of us could feel as though we are excelling, and yet only one of us will have the better results/outcomes from our actions. Therefore, does this mean that only one of us is excelling and the other is just fooling themselves? Or, do we both need to be in the top 5 percent in the world to attain excellence in any field of endeavor? Or is it the top 1 percent? Who knows? Who decides this? Or maybe excellence has absolutely nothing to do with us but is purely based on other people’s expectations. Therefore surpassing another person’s expectations immediately ascends us into the realms of excellence???
Given all this, it’s quite clear that it’s going to be very difficult to outline a concrete definition of what excellence truly means. However, we can certainly broaden the definition of excellence in a multitude of ways based on a set of simple actions. Partaking in each one of these actions helps us build very specific habits that lead us down the path towards attaining results in life that the vast majority of people never reach. Therefore a culmination of all these habits could very well substitute as our definition of excellence because as Aristotle mentioned, excellence is what we repeatedly do. It’s not an act but rather a habit. Or in other words, a culmination of habits directed at a very specific goal for a definitive purpose.
What follows is a set of actions, habits, beliefs, decisions and empowering thoughts that in combination will help you get the results you desire to create in your life in pursuit of your highest goals and life’s purpose. Working these ideas into your life will set you on a path In Pursuit of Excellence, where you will begin to excel far beyond what the vast majority of people are capable of. And that I guess is what excellence is all about. It’s about doing the things that the majority of the population cannot or will not do. That is what separates you from the crowd and helps you to live a life of excellence.
So let’s get started on this exploratory journey and identify what it really means to live a life of excellence.
What it Means to Live in Pursuit of Excellence
To live a life in pursuit of excellence means having an insatiable hunger to:
- Make a positive difference in people’s lives.
- Pursue your own path, dreams and deepest passions.
- Share your expertise and enthusiasm willingly with the world.
- Do things better than you initially expected; better than other people would do in the same situation.
- Leave a lasting legacy behind that impacts the world in a positive way. How do you want to be remembered?
- Work not only harder but also make an effort to work smarter each and every day.
To live a life in pursuit of excellence means showing enthusiasm to:
- Improve yourself by expanding your boundaries and raising your personal standards.
- Learn something new daily by updating your knowledge, by staying informed, by reading books, and by developing new skills.
- Learn from experience through self-reflection especially from mistakes, failure, and through other people’s endeavors.
To live a life in pursuit of excellence means you must:
- Set clearly defined goals.
- Let go of the negative thoughts that are keeping you stuck and feeling miserable.
- Follow through on the promises you make to yourself and others.
- Avoid the pitfalls of procrastination, perfectionism and instant gratification.
- Maintain high levels of energy through proper diet, exercise, and adequate sleep.
- Keep your motivation levels primed at all times to help you get through difficult periods of your life.
- Plan ahead tactically and strategically by anticipating potential setbacks and problems in advance.
- Keep persisting and moving forward no matter how many difficulties you face along your path.
- Avoid making pitiful excuses for the lack of results in your life.
- Take full responsibility for your choices, decisions, actions and the attitude you bring into every situation.
To live a life in pursuit of excellence means continuously:
- Cultivating a solution-focused mindset.
- Being adaptable to changing conditions and circumstances.
- Striving to be humble, tenacious, curious and compassionate.
- Giving without the expectation of getting anything back in return.
- Inspiring others to overcome their problems and achieve their goals.
- Striving to live a life of no regrets by making the most of your opportunities.
- Living your life true to your highest core values.
To live a life in pursuit of excellence means making the most use of your time. This means:
- Staying focused on getting results while working on your highest priority activities.
- Gaining most value from every opportunity, interaction and minute of your day.
- Consistently pushing yourself to raise your levels of productivity.
To live a life in pursuit of excellence means associating with the right kinds of people. Surround yourself with:
- Caring people who support and believe in you wholeheartedly in your pursuit of your deepest passions.
- Positive role models whom you can use as a source of inspiration.
- World-class mentors who can provide you with the guidance and advice you need to make the right decisions.
- Coaches who can bring out the best in you in every situation.
To live a life in pursuit of excellence means understanding:
- How to successfully manage difficult emotions such as anger, frustration, anxiety, overwhelm and stress.
- Your unique strengths, talents, and abilities, then making the most of these gifts with every decision you make and action you take.
- How to effectively circumnavigate your weaknesses by outsourcing and delegating certain tasks and activities to better optimize your time and efforts.
- How to utilize your intuition to help you make better and more effective decisions.
To live a life in pursuit of excellence means finding the courage to:
- Take intelligent risks in times of uncertainty.
- Make the most of every opportunity that comes your way.
- Distance yourself from unhealthy relationships and friendships that drag you down emotionally.
- Overcome the addictions that tend to hold you back in life.
- Conquer the fears, the self-limiting beliefs and all the obstacles and problems that hold you back from living the life you desire to create for yourself.
Finally, to live a life in pursuit of excellence means being open to new perspectives, viewpoints, and ideas. There is always a better way to look at a situation; there is always an alternate perspective; there is always an inspiring idea that you haven’t yet thought of, and there is always opportunity to do things differently and better than you have done them before. However, you must always be open to the possibility that life has more to offer.
Pursuing Excellence is a State of Mind
Given all that we have discussed, it’s quite clear that the pursuit of excellence is nothing more than a state of mind that leads to positive action. These actions over time turn into habits, and these habits turn into concrete results that separate you from the masses. However, this is a process. Habits are not developed overnight. It takes time to develop the habits that lead to a life of excellence. But it, of course, all starts with the right mindset.
The thoughts you allow to dwell on your mind and the subsequent attitude you bring to every situation will determine what actions you take or choose not to take. Then, of course, the consistency or lack of consistency of these actions will either help you develop empowering habits, or will keep you stuck in mediocrity. The choice is solely yours to make.
The pursuit of excellence will not be an easy path. In fact, it will be extremely difficult. It’s difficult because you have to make sacrifices to let go of lazy habits that are feeding your comfort zone. Within the realms of this comfort zone you feel in control and secure. However, life only rewards those willing to step out of their comfort zone; those who take the actions that the masses are not willing to take; those who make an effort to separate themselves from the crowd and do more than anyone else would ever expect. That is what it means to live in the pursuit of excellence.
The odds, of course, suggest that you are unlikely to succeed. Excellence is only reserved for the few people who are willing to take all the risk and make all the sacrifices necessary to stand out from the crowd. A very small percentage of people will ever take this step, and even fewer will commit themselves to living a life of excellence in the long-term. So yes, the odds are certainly stacked against you, but there will be people who will beat the odds. So why not you? Why couldn’t you be one of those people? Of course, you could. And all it takes is to begin working through all these small actions progressively over the course of the next few days, weeks, months and even years. Eventually, through persistent effort, you will develop the necessary habits that will help you begin living a life of excellence.
Time to Assimilate these Concepts
Did you gain value from this article? Is it important that you know and understand this topic? Would you like to optimize how you think about this topic? Would you like a method for applying these ideas to your life?
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Gain More Knowledge…
Here are some additional links and resources that will help you learn more about this topic:
- 5 Characteristics of Grit: How Many Do You Have? @ Forbes
- 8 Things that Separate Outstanding Performers from the Average @ Lifehack
- 17 Sings You’re an Overachiever @ Huffington Post
- 18 Characteristics of Exceptional Employees @ Forbes
- 50 Ways to Strive for Excellence in Life @ Dumb Little Man
- Demanding Only Excellence Can Lead to Failure @ Psychology Today
- How to Excel at Anything @ Inc.
- How to Excel in Your Career @ Time
- How to Live a Remarkable Life @ Under 30 CEO
- How to Sustain Your A-Game (Every Day) @ Robin Sharma
- How to Think, Train and Thrive Like a Champion @ Entrepreneur
- What Brain Science Tells Us About How to Excel @ Harvard Business Review