"Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence." — Vince Lombardi
Excellence is a term that reserved for the attainment of a level of achievement that moves beyond merely the average; it’s about not just doing our very best, but it’s Being our very best. It’s when our supreme passions are met with supreme efforts, and therefore yield excellent results. And who wouldn’t want that? Who wouldn’t want the satisfaction of hard work paying off to fulfill supreme desires? Everyone may want to achieve excellence but certainly not everyone gets there. So what gives?
The thing that prevents us from being our very best is what I call our gap: The gap between who we are and who we want to be; the gap between where we are and where we want to go.
We all encounter these gaps at some point, and these encounters can be annoying if not all together disheartening, but sometimes we’re not even aware that these gaps exist. Sometimes we don’t know that there’s anything holding us back. But perhaps what's even worse is when we are fully aware of our shortcomings, and yet do nothing about them.
For years I lived by the mantra:
“Don't let the great be the enemy of the good."
Which means that just because someone somewhere is better than you at something, that doesn't mean that it’s any less of a worthy endeavor for you. This is wonderful advice to get us started, to get us into the game, but it does have a dark side. For years I was so content with being "good enough" that I was never interested in even trying to improve. I figured I wasn't all that great anyway, so why bother trying? Why bother risk experiencing the pain of pain of failure or rejection? So I held back and played life small.
My colleagues would say: “Go large or go home!”
I’d simply reply: “I’m just going to go home! I’m going to go have a sandwich”
The same advice that that got me into the game was preventing me from growing, because I wasn't in the game to win; I was in the game to not lose. I was not willing to put in the work needed to achieve excellence. That was my gap. That was the gap that prevented me from moving from where I was to where I wanted to be. It's what was preventing me from excelling in life
The Magic Word Excellence reminds us that instead of just going through life, we should instead grow through life, and this means that instead of sitting idly by wishing things would get better, we instead engage our gap, making small incremental changes to our lives that when done over a lifetime compound to yield excellent results. If we do this, and if we follow through with it every day, we’ll find that we’ll be able to Go The Distance and achieve even more than perhaps we currently think possible.
What does your gap look like? How is it holding you back from excelling? How would it feel to overcome this gap and achieve Excellence? What can you do starting today to engage your gap?
Jonas Cain is an educator, facilitator, and coach, working to engage, empower, and encourage leaders and the people they serve to experience joy.