Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.
This is not an article about how to find and bring excellence to others. Today (and next week) we’re going to talk about keeping and maintaining excellence once you know it’s already attainable and deliverable. What this means for you is learning how to make excellence a ritual, not something that is hit-or-miss.
When someone provides you excellent customer service, you feel that you are being treated special. Take a moment and think back to just such an experience; one where you received excellence – in whatever form – from a business. When you were treated that way, you were the star of the moment. You were lifted out of the ordinary world of good enough and set down in a world of the outstanding. And so, when excellence comes your way, you sit up and take notice, bask in it, and YOU WANT MORE. The challenge for those who provide excellence to others is that, when that same business fails to provide consistent and sustainable excellence, they fail to live up to what their customers and clients have come to expect. We are all in the customer service business in one way or another. We MUST learn to make excellence the habit that Aristotle spoke about. This takes work . . . because excellence is a perishable skill. And, most importantly, it is yours to lose . . . it can’t be taken away from you.
And when your excellence fades, you fail. Take another moment and think about the customer service you are providing to others. Is is systematically awesome? Is it something that can be believed in and always relied upon? Do people still look forward to what you do and say?
If you answered “No” to any of these, there’s something wrong. Call it falling on your face if you’d like. Think of as the cake not being worth the candle. Or maybe the bottom has fallen out of what you’re doing. None of these cute sayings changes the problem. Stop making excuses for your backsliding into the average and the failure to provide excellence in all that you do and say. I don’t care what others have said. Falling on your face does not mean you’re still moving forward. It means you failed to achieve a result. Having a cake that is not worth the candle still means your result is not worth my effort to be part of what you are doing. It means you failed to achieve a result. And when the bottom falls out, you have lost value in the eyes of others. That also means you failed to achieve a result.
Let me put is another way: Your excellence needs to be something that can be instantly reproduced and repeatable without delay.
The interesting thing for me, from a peak performance perspective, is that most of you don’t know there’s an excellence problem in the first place. You tell me you’re busy and the numbers are steady. You tell me no one has really complained and those who have are just being nit-picky. The fact remains that you stay reactive to the day-to-day things and people that come your way and you allocate your attention and intention to what’s in front of your nose. Or, worse, you only attend to those things and people you hastily (and erroneously) conclude will benefit you or your business the most. Imagine how your life and your business will soar to the next level if, instead of being reactive, you are responsive to your Number One Raving Fans!
By the way, have you lost any of those fans, lately? I’ll be you have. How did you let that happen? How did you come to neglect the people who helped get you where you are now in the first place? And – most importantly – why don’t you know there’s a problem in the first place?
Look, I know that consistent and sustainable excellence can seem elusive at first. I get that the effectiveness of your excellence is also dependent on someone else’s expectations. But . . . you actually have more control over all of these subtleties than you think. In fact, the really successful and influential companies and business people know that they have the ability to set the frame for their customers and clients. It’s really not about meeting expectations. It’s all about what you do to define and sometime redefine what excellence can be.
And it all starts with asking questions. So next week I’m going to show you some masterful steps to consider if your excellence has waned and your raving fans seem a bit distant.
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