Excellence can be obtained if you
Care more than others think is wise
Risk more than others think is safe
Dream more than others think is practical
Expect more than others think is possible
– Claude Bissell
In the eyes of the average person, there is something snobby in striving for excellence. For some people, possibly for most, excellence is pure luck, almost a luxurious state of living that you are either born with or not. It is no coincidence that those who think this way do not excel at many things in life.
There is a paradox in the search for excellence, because it is the result of an attitude, a habit you need to have in the first place in order to achieve it. There is something frustrating in understating what T. Alan Armstrong said, “Champions do not become champions when they win the event, but in the hours, weeks, months and years they spend preparing for it. The victorious performance itself is merely the demonstration of their championship act”. It is frustrating, because it makes you think that excelling is hard work.
Excellence goes together with extraordinary success that is higher than all standards. It is frustrating because you cannot reach excellence without succeeding big time.
There are many misconceptions about excellence that keep most people in “the average zone”. With excellence, much like in the world of finance, you can divide people into 4 categories, the “poor” failing people, the “average” unsuccessful people, the “rich” successful people and the “super rich” – those who excel (and drive the economy).
The “poor” people are those who are in a state of constant failure, hardly surviving each day. If you check their “success tank”, it contains small successes they cannot even recognize.
The “average” people are those who think success has something to do with luck – it is too hard and unachievable. Their “success tank” contains more successes than the “poor” people’s do, but they cannot repeat them, because they do not recognize the link between action and success.
The “rich” people are those who strive for success, set goals and complete action steps to achieve it. They believe that they deserve success and that achieving it is within their power. Their “success tank” is pretty full and helps build their confidence.
The “super rich” are those who do not settle for success. For them, having one more success is not enough. They have built their confidence from succeeding so many times it becomes their baseline. Their “success tank” is bigger and keeps expanding, because it needs more space to accumulate their enormous successes.
The choice of which of these 4 types we want to be is obvious, although the “poor” and the “average” people will not agree with me. In their defense, they will say they cannot really choose and again, Mr Luck steals the show. With them, together with millions of hungry and abused kids around the world, I will have to agree that there is some luck involved as being born to the “right” parents, in the right country and growing up with the “right” attitude are factors of luck, but using luck as an excuse can only get you so far.
I was not that lucky in that sense, because I grew up in a poor family that later on became average. Yet, I have proven that despite the poor mentality, it is possible to get yourself out of emotional poverty and excel.
When I was 16, I realized that my excuses for not succeeding were directly related to my failure. I did not fail because I was not good at something. I did not succeed because I was poor, I did not believe I could and I supported this belief with millions of excuses.
Try asking yourself, “Why am I not succeeding?” and your answers will reveal your demons. At a very early stage of my life, I realized that everyone has the power to excel but not everyone is using the power.
Growing up in a “poor” family, I had to develop this attitude myself and become a business woman (more like a business child) at the age of 25, right after finishing my education studies. The mentality of my family and most people around me was “You do not have enough money to open an early childhood center”, “Most businesses close down within the first year”, “First you have to find customers”, “It’s too risky” and “Do not open a business with a family member”. Despite all that poor- and average-people talk, I succeeded. Having had 9 years of success, some of which even touched excellence, I knew in my mind that “Doing no more than the average is what brings the average down” and that if I kept improving the quality of what I had to offer, I would excel. I succeeded big time.
Excuses for poverty
Unsuccessful (poor and average) people invent and adopt beliefs and ideas about successful people to help them justify their unsuccessful state of mind. When they hear or meet those who excel, their creativity is even greater. Here are just some of the beliefs that will guarantee you will not excel.
- “She was so lucky”
- “This was an overnight success”
- “It’s too hard” or ” I don’t stand a chance”
- “I don’t have the skills” or “It’s just not for me”
- “It’s not worth it”
- “The risk is too high” or “The sacrifice if greater than the achievement”
- “I won’t be able to handle success”
- “He is so miserable”
- “It’s not fair”
The list of the beliefs of unsuccessful people is huge. In coaching, I ask my clients to write them down so we know what we are working against. I could make a never-ending list of their examples. I believe every person should find his or her demons as they are an obstacle to any success. Tony Robbins said, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten”. The road to success and excellence requires you to do something differently.
If you want to find the beliefs that stop you from succeeding and excelling, answer these questions:
- Why am I not succeeding?
- Why did I not get what I wanted?
- Find a person you think is excelling and ask: What makes him/her successful?
- What scares me about being successful?
- What do people who excel give up?
Finding the thing that blocks you from believing you can succeed and deserve success is very important on your journey towards success. People who excel think they can succeed and deserve success.
The first time I discovered I could succeed was when I was kicked out of school in 10th Grade (for a good reason – I had failed too many subjects). The excellence act was when I took the courage to go to the school counselor and ask to stay.
She said to me, “Ronit, we allow only one summer make-up exam and you have failed 3 subjects. When I went to visit her, I had not anticipated she would say that, but there was something inside of me that said, “I will sit for 3 summer exams”.
She looked at me and said, “But we do not allow anyone to sit for more than one summer exam”. I told her, “You will allow me, because I will be the first one to pass all 3 of them”.
And I did. Big time!
For 10 years of schooling, all my scores had been failures or passes. I was happy to take some sport or arts & crafts classes to see just some average grades, but after that courageous act of declaring, “I can and I will!” for the first time in my life, all my 11th Grade report card was A’s and B’s and I received a scholarship for excellence.
Every excellence starts with the belief you can!
Join me next week for some beliefs people who excel have that everyone who wants to succeed and excel can (and should) adopt.
This post is part of the series Excellence:
- The art of Excellence (1): Success with high standards
- The art of Excellence (2): Fighting poverty
- The art of Excellence (3): Risk, success and happiness
- In My Opinion