This is a guest post from Josh Cole, the Founder/President of I.S.I. Leadership Consulting, LLC and is the author of The Heart of a Shepherd. Josh is a friend of mine and a great leader. Enjoy!
Excellence is a term that often describes the best of the best; it is a term that describes those who are more than average and those who accomplish great things. Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit”; and Vince Lombardi said, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence”. Both men tell us that excellence is an ongoing pursuit; something that we are constantly striving for. It is not a “one and done” deal.
While these quotes are inspirational, encouraging, and motivational, it can be a challenge to figure out how to apply them. That said, I would like to share with you some characteristics that you can demonstrate that will help you in your pursuit for excellence, along with some verses that talk about them.
1. Be distinguished (Daniel 6:3)-Daniel set himself apart from the people that surrounded him. The result of that was, “the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.” That thing to note, however, is that Daniel did not distinguish himself in order to gain favor with the king; Daniel did it because that is who he was. The same needs to be true for us so that in everything we do we would strive to distinguish ourselves with our exceptional qualities.
2. Have knowledge and discernment (Philippians 1:9-10)- Our knowledge will allow us to discern between what is true and what is not, and to “approve the things that are excellent”. Whether we are washing dishes, mopping floors, assisting customers, counting inventory, making product, or leading an organization, we need to know everything there is to know. We all need to view ourselves as students, understanding that there is always something to learn. The minute we stop believing we have more to learn is when we eliminate any possibility of growth.
3. Give it your all (Colossians 3:23)- Our efforts do not go unnoticed. Likewise, our lack of effort does not go unnoticed either. I get it, we all have bad days and our motivation seems to be completely absent. It is difficult to find purpose sometimes; we think that our tasks are unimportant. God honors everything that we do as long as we are doing it for Him. So, “whatever you do work at it with all your heart…”
4. Be a model of good works (Titus 2:7)- Whether we realize it or not, someone is looking up to us. Our influence reaches further than we think, and we are called to be good stewards of that influence. Our attitude, performance, and words have a big impact on the people around us. Unfortunately, we often choose not to think about that, and we become a model of mediocrity or even worse.
5. Be committed (Proverbs 16:3)- We make a lot of commitments: employee-employer relationships, lunch plans, marriages, and the list goes on. Let me ask you, what percentage of your commitments last? The Lord takes His commitments very seriously and so should we; and whatever commitments we make, we should commit those to Him. If I make a commitment based on my own ability, it is likely to fail. But if I make a commitment to the Lord, He will establish my plans. I like that option better.
6. Be confident (2 Corinthians 3:5, Isaiah 41:10)- Confidence covered in humility. That is a tough balance to maintain. Normally, we slide from one side of the spectrum to the other. First, we must understand that without the Lord, we are nothing. Once we acknowledge that, we must remember that He made us for a purpose and equipped us with the skills, talents, and strengths to accomplish great things.
7. Build up others (Romans 15:1-3)- We were not given our abilities for our own selfish purposes; rather, we are called to use them for the good and encouragement of others. Often we think of ways to use our abilities for the betterment of ourselves, and not for the betterment of others. We need to change that mindset.
8. Time management (Colossians 4:5, Psalm 90:12)- Most of us, if we were honest, would like to be better at managing our time. Often it is the contrary that happens, our time manages us. We need to “make the most of every opportunity”, yet, are incapable of doing so if we are living under the burden and stress of poor time management. The psalmist says that when we learn to number our days, we can then gain a heart of wisdom. The problem is we view our time as a limitless resource, which causes us to devalue it. Tasks and to-do lists pile up and we begin to run around but accomplish nothing. Value each minute and learn how to say no.
These are not all the things that we must consider as we strive to be excellent, but can be a great foundation to build upon. Before you can ever expect to lead others, you first must lead yourself and that personal leadership starts here, with the pursuit of excellence. So today I encourage you to do everything you do with excellence.