Ask me in September and I'd have been cautious, but openly optimistic about 2016, fuelled by some solid business successes over the summer months and riding an enduring wave of positive feedback from cherished clients.
Of course, I don’t know what the year will be like, any more than anyone else does. But there are some things that I know could help me have a good year – and you too.
Eliminating mediocrity is one such thing.
I don’t mean becoming a perfectionist, working all hours and beating yourself about the head when something isn't totally flawless.
But I do mean paying attention, and not settling for something you know isn't good enough. In time, that adds up to excellence.
I’m really clear that excellence is never an accident. It’s the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction, skilful execution, and the vision to see obstacles as opportunities.
Excellence leads to extraordinary things – but excellence needs attention.
You have to foster excellence, nurture it. Feed it.
How to nurture excellence
One way is to recognise common traits among extraordinary individuals, and emulate them.
Over years of working with amazing people, we’ve identified some traits as ‘markers’ of excellence. Recognise them – and work towards achieving them yourself – and you’ll be well on your way to eliminating mediocrity.
People with a commitment to excellence, in their leadership and in their performance:
- Aren’t just working for the money. They care about their organisation beyond the cold hard cash, and take pride in its performance, impact on society, and ability to help others through its offerings.
- Are truthful. They do what they say they are going to do, when they say they are going to do it. People know they can count on them time and again. They are totally engaged.
- Embrace opportunities. They look for – and find – opportunities to improve themselves, their work, and their business.
- Focus on CAN. High performers focus on what they can do rather than what they can’t accomplish. And they find ways to help the team achieve too.
- Are busy, productive and proactive. While many waste too much time planning, over-thinking, sitting on their hands or going in circles, people with excellence as a core trait are out there getting it done.
- Have a desire to be exceptional. They will typically do things others won’t. Becoming exceptional is a choice, and once made, a choice becomes a commitment.
- Accept feedback. People of excellence aren’t just open to feedback, they are more likely to act on it. They know how to get the best from their talent.
- Set higher standards for themselves. The result? Greater commitment, more momentum, a better work ethic and better results. And if you work for one of these people, then lucky you - your standards will get higher too.
- Take action. Are resourceful. Finish what they start. They don’t wait around for someone to hand-hold them through something. They work it out and get it done.
- Play to their strengths. They know themselves well, and work on building their strengths rather than dwelling on their weaknesses.
- Are compassionate towards themselves. They employ self-compassion when setting their goals – using comparison of where they are now, compared to where they've come from, to help them up their game and spur them onwards. No negative self-talk needed.
Are there markers of excellence here that you can give your renewed attention? Areas where you can more fully commit – to leading, and helping your team and your colleagues be the absolute best they can be? To being excellent?
It’s not easy, and it’s a challenge I remind myself about often. But surely, going for excellence is what’s going to make the difference this year.
My crystal ball
What do I know about the year ahead? I know that I have plans in place for it to be a year of excellence for Hello Potential. We are delivering some great work for our clients, and relish your success as much as our own. I hope your year ahead will be excellent, too. If you’d like some help in achieving that, book a no-strings complementary conversation with us, here. As always, you buy the coffee, and we’ll bring a minimum of three ideas for you to explore.
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A version of this post originally appeared on the virtuallylynbicker blog, penned of course by the inspirational Lyn Bicker.