What is excellence?

A German once visited a temple under construction where he saw a sculptor making and idol of God. Suddenly he noticed a similar idol lying nearby. Surprised, he asked the sculptor, “Do you need two statues of the same idol?” “No,” said the sculptor without looking up, ”We need only one, but the first one got damaged at the last stage.” The gentleman examined the idol and found no apparent damage. “Where is the damage?” he asked. “There is a scratch on the nose of the idol.” said the sculptor, still busy with his work. “Where are you going to install the idol?”

The sculptor replied that it would be installed on a pillar twenty feet high. “If the idol is that far, who is going to know that there is a scratch on the nose?” the gentleman asked. The sculptor stopped his work, looked up at the gentleman, smiled and said, “I will know it.”

The best story, I have come across, that depicts excellence. The desire to excel is exclusive of the fact whether someone else appreciates it or not. Excellence is a drive from inside, not outside. It is not for someone else to notice but for our own satisfaction and efficiency.

Mediocre people are the ones who have never tasted excellence because it is addictive. Excellence is not a one-time act but a habit, not a skill but an attitude, not a destination we reach, but an unending journey of constant improvement. What better way to live than by growing better each day?

Change is the only thing that doesn’t change. Yet in the middle of all the changes, there is one thing that constantly determines success – an obsession for excellence. Imagine if everyone is bitten by the excellence bug, what a different world we would be in!

Excellence endures and sustains. It goes beyond motivation into the realms of inspiration. Excellence is about going a little beyond what we expect from ourselves, just doing a little more each time. It is not so much a battle we fight with others, but a battle we fight with ourselves, by constantly raising the bar and stretching ourselves. The belief that no matter how common the task, it should be done uncommonly well is the first step toward excellence. The path of excellence is never crowded and is a direct highway that leads to the top.

And the good news is excellence is within the grasp of all, for it is merely about doing our best at every moment. It is not about perfection, which is an unattainable goal, but about becoming what we are capable of being. If we wish to make a difference, we can do so only be embracing excellence.

It might seem too stressful to always be striving for excellence in all things, and we might feel “Isn’t it alright to just be good enough?” Excellence is living life to the fullest and “good enough” is just existing. We won’t understand what life is till we stop existing and start living. Similarly the joy and satisfaction that results from excellence is unparalleled.

In Marshall Field’s words:

“To do the right thing, at the right time, in the right way; to do some things better than they were ever done before; to eliminate errors; to know both sides of the question; to be courteous; to be an example; to work for the love of work; to anticipate requirements; to develop resources; to recognize no impediments; to master circumstances; to act from reason rather than rule; to be satisfied with nothing short of excellence.”

The Path to Excellence

Care more than you think is wise.

Risk more than you think is safe.

Dream more than you think is practical.

Expect more than you think is possible.

Strive more than you think is worthwhile.

Do more than you think is necessary.

Be more than you think is sufficient.

Stop believing in mediocrity.  Choose to follow the path of excellence.

Striving to be excellent…

Written by Guest Writer: Dhanya Yadav as a run-up to my 2nd Blogoversary.

Dhanya is a Teach For India Fellow (2010)
Grade 2 Class Teacher,
Akanksha Shindewadi Public School
– Also by Dhanya:D for Dilemma