Everyone’s striving for excellence these days, or at least that’s what they tell people. So why is it that we so infrequently experience excellence? I think it’s because we’re focused on the wrong thing.
We should be focusing on consistency rather than excellence and here’s why.
I recently spoke to a man who was very focused on the few times that his employees achieved “near excellence.” The first thing I’ll say is he seriously needs to reconsider his definition of excellence, because what I see in their performance is infrequent bursts of meeting the minimum standard defined by their Standard Operating Procedures surrounded by a whole lot of sub-par performance. But that’s a subject for another post.
The problem with focusing on sparks of excellence, whether it’s your own or that of your employees, is that it only takes a few sparks to ignite the belief that you are indeed achieving excellence. That belief burns so brightly it outshines the significantly higher number of examples where you fall far short of excellence. It’s as if you’re creating a new concept of excellence we’ll call “Sorta Sometimes Excellent.”
However, what “Sorta Sometimes Excellent” behavior does is create a massive amount of inconsistency in your leadership, your customer service, and your relationships which breeds mistrust on the part of your leaders, customers, employees and vendors.
If instead we focus on consistency – even if it is just consistently meeting the standards, consistently doing what we say we’re going to do, or consistently doing what’s in our job descriptions, we’ll have a more accurate view of our true performance. We’ll also have created an environment where our leaders, customers, and employees understand what they can count on from us.
Once consistency is achieved, then we can focus on being consistently excellent.