Win Today with Christopher Cook

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9 Valuable Qualities of People Who Do Things Really Well

I place a high value upon excellence and admire people who do the same. But excellence isn’t simply a point of personal appreciation. In fact, excellence is a biblical mandate. Recorded in Colossians 3:23-24, the apostle Paul said, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” When we demonstrate excellence, we demonstrate the nature of our God who is excellent.

But excellence is not to be confused with the slippery, frustrating slope of perfection. Often, the pursuit of perfection is an illusive and unattainable trap that yields minimal progress. So then, what does excellence look like?

Excellence is Commitment

As an exercise of personal growth, I have recently endeavored to study the behaviors and core values of people who do things really well. In observing people of high excellence, I noticed that they don’t excel in only one area of life; they excel in most areas of life. That certainly doesn’t mean they are flawless or without blindspots. It simply means that they possess an internal commitment—in whatever they do—to be their very best and never settle for mediocrity, even while learning and growing.

Over the weekend, my good friend, Shane Grush, a respected music producer and songwriter, made a statement on Instagram that really resonated with me: “No matter what you’re doing, do it well.” Shane epitomizes excellence in whatever he does. In a similar text conversation, my friend, Eric Wolfe, a rockstar production designer (seriously, he’s one of the best), said, “Aim with clarity toward the story worth telling. Trust each other in discipline along the way. Then give your all and never stop looking for something to improve…refining is crucial.” I’m grateful for people like Shane and Eric in my life. They inspire me to be my very best.

In turn, life is too short and too important to not be your best.

Excellence in Motion

As I stated earlier, excellence is primarily a function of character and is demonstrated in a person’s communications and actions. From my research, here are nine valuable qualities of people who consistently demonstrate excellence in their personal and professional lives:

1.) They are well-planned, well-researched, and never stop improving. They push the proverbial envelope of mundane and poke the box of possibility. My friend, Eric, continued, “Defining the situational victory is key. Excellence isn’t perfection; it’s doing the best with what you have. It is my mission to always point toward the greatest intersection of stewardship and creativity.”

2.) They set out to do things right the first time. Nor do they “spend a dollar to save a dime.” Yesterday, I called a mentor to inquire about this character trait. He remarked, “I can never understand the motivation of people who take deliberate shortcuts. To me, it’s celebrating mediocrity.” My friend, don’t throw a party for mediocrity. Throw mediocrity out the door.

Salvatore Ferragamo, a renowned Italian shoe manufacturer, exemplifies this principle in their process known as tramezza: “A traditional handcrafting process, tramezza is used to make a variety of different shoe models that hold their shape over time, with a perfect alignment of sole and upper. This complex process involves over 320 different stages and over four hours of manual crafting by expert cobblers for a durable, resistant shoe of unparalleled flexibility and comfort. Tramezza shoes are fine works of art that last over time.”

3.) They realize that their ideas aren’t the only ideas. In fact, they live open-handedly and include others in research and development knowing that “one is too small a number to achieve greatness.” Why? Narrow-minded people get short-reaching results. You don’t know what you don’t know. Self-awareness about your own limitations opens the door to invite others to contribute on a needed level.

4.) They intend to be excellent because “excellent” is who they are. They cultivate excellence in their character. They possess an appreciation for well-crafted plans and products, beautiful design, and transformative innovations. And they always strive to learn more, think bigger, and produce better. As a result, they create vibrant organizations and teams.

For years, I have adored the fine work of Aston Martin. Regarding their automobiles, they tout, “The very essence of Aston Martin is something you feel each time you look at one of our cars. It sweeps over you on every unforgettable drive. Powerful, exhilarating and precise yet timelessly elegant and sophisticated; our cars blend iconic design, exceptional engineering and unrivalled craftsmanship to create an unforgettable, emotional experience. Each car is the essence of power, beauty, and soul.” Check this out:

5.) They live with passion. Passionate people are magnetic people. Why design, create, teach, and lead if it doesn’t emanate from passion?

6.) They show-up. Apple is two years ahead of their competition. As Apple designer Jonathan Ive said recently, “Our goals are very simple — to design and make better products. If we can’t make something that is better, we won’t do it.” Clearly, Apple applied that thinking first to iPods, then smart phones and more recently, to the iPad and the newest addition, the Apple Watch.

7.) They don’t make excuses. They do their very best 100% of the time.

8.) They’re not afraid of mistakes. A benchmark of Apple’s success and innovation resides in their research and development department. They’re willing to try anything and even fail at anything while on the journey to creating beautiful, functional products.

9.) They understand that excellence isn’t really about them. It’s about contributing to the betterment of others.

Whatever You Do

So where does this begin in an organization? In a ministry team? In a family? Leadership.

Eric ended our conversation with a brilliant question to us leaders: “Are we pointing the compass toward the best we can achieve?” He continued, “Then the team has to be trusted and encouraged to bring their all in the discipline and preparation. Finally, there needs to be an intense final push to make sure that every bit of polish that can be made is. All of this process, as with life itself, should be lived with passion and peace; authenticity and love.”

In surveying my readership over the last couple weeks, I discovered that most of you place a high value upon personal growth and have significant influence over your teams, employees, and children. I love that.

So, my call to you, creative leaders and pastors in local churches, industry designers, artists, and household leaders, is this: never stop growing. Don’t cap your creative potential by reverting to the familiar past. Don’t suffocate the creativity of your team for the sake of your personal preferences. Explore every possibility. Change-up your routine in order to create something you’ve never created before. And most importantly, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”