My job title is Director of Service Excellence. I often get asked about excellence and what I think it means, and the answer informs how I approach my job and it just might change the way you think about yours.
The dictionary says excellence is the quality of being outstanding or extremely good. When I talk to a lot of people they take it much further and describe excellence as something approaching perfection. For me though, I see it differently.
As a human who has experienced many other humans, I know that we are, as a species, riddled with flaws, we make mistakes and fail… a lot. No one that I have ever met is or has been perfect. Perfection it would seem is simply out of our reach. However, to relentlessly pursue it has the makings of a noble quest and is the essence of my definition of excellence.
To my way of thinking, to be excellent is to never sit still. It is a daily endeavor to be better than the day before. It is taking the tasks before us and turning them from mundane trifles into the stuff of art. Seth Godin in his book Linchpin talks about the work we do as art and that each of us is an artisan. Take a look at this blog post from Godin:
I define art as having nothing at all to do with painting.
Art is a human act, a generous contribution, something that might not work, and it is intended to change the recipient for the better, often causing a connection to happen.
Five elements that are difficult to find and worth seeking out. Human, generous, risky, change and connection.
You can be perfect or you can make art.
You can keep track of what you get in return, or you can make art.
You can enjoy the status quo, or you can make art.
The most difficult part might be in choosing whether you want to make art at all, and committing to what it requires of you.
What is more excellent than that? Committing to the requirements of art rather than the laziness of the ordinary, this is excellence. Are you creating art or just something ordinary? How can changing your thinking change your work?