Excellence or Success
During the past few months I've had the opportunity to speak to the Pittsburgh Pirates, the University of Tennessee, Clemson and Duke football teams and the Philadelphia Eagles. I found that all these teams shared a common characteristic: They were all focused on excellence and greatness more than success. In fact the Philadelphia Eagles define greatness simply as "Being better than your former self."
There is a difference between success and excellence.
Success is often measured by comparison to others. Excellence,
on the other hand, is all about being the best we can be and maximizing
our gifts, talents and abilities to perform at our highest potential.
We live in a world that loves to focus
on success and loves to compare. We are all guilty of doing this.
However, I believe that to be our best we must focus more on excellence
and less on success. We must focus on being the best we can be and
realize that our greatest competition is not someone else but ourselves.
For example, coaching legend John
Wooden often wouldn’t tell his players who they were playing each game.
He felt that knowing the competition was irrelevant. He believed that if
his team played to the best of their ability they would be happy with
the outcome. In fact, John Wooden never focused on winning. He had his
team focus on teamwork, mastering the fundamentals, daily improvement
and the process that excellence requires. As a result he and his teams
won A LOT.
A focus on excellence was also the key
for golfing legend Jack Nicklaus. His secret was to play the course not
the competition. He simply focused on playing the best he could play
against the course he was playing. While others were competing against
Jack, he was competing against the course and himself.
The same can be said for Apple’s
approach with the iPod, iPhone and iPad. When they created these
products they didn’t focus on the competition. Instead they focused on
creating the best product they could create. As a result, rather than
measuring themselves against others they have become the measuring
We have a choice as individuals,
organizations and teams. We can focus on success and spend our life
looking around to see how our competition is doing, or we can look
straight ahead towards the vision of greatness we have for ourselves and
our teams. We can look at competition as the standard or as an
indicator of our progress towards our own standards. We can chase
success or we can embark on a quest for excellence and focus 100% of our
energy to become our best... and let success find us.
Ironically, when our goal is excellence the outcome and byproduct is often success.
Do you agree that there is a difference between success and excellence? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter.