Excellence and Joy

On Thanksgiving Day, 2015, the Green Bay Packers retired Bret Favre’s #4 Jersey. As a Bear fan, I have no love for Favre. He has broken my heart on more than one occasion. Even so, I have always thought of him as one of the greatest football players that ever played. He played the game with Excellence and Joy. During the interview that followed, he said, “I wanted to be the best. You gotta work hard and you gotta believe.” That’s the cry of Excellence!

Excellence is its own Reward. It has been said, “Do what you do better than anyone else and you will never have to worry about money.”  In other words, Excellence (not money or position) is the goal. Money and position naturally fall to the excellent. Excellence also provides a reward much more valuable than money or position. Excellence creates a healthy pride, purpose, and joy. This is the driving, intrinsic, motivating force that sets people and business apart. I would argue this satisfaction is what most of us truly desire. Money, position, and power often feel empty or purposeless without the sense of living up to our true potential for excellence.

The Principle of Excellence has been understood and applied for 1,000’s of years to aid men and women in their endeavors. Vince Lombardi, the famous coach of the Green Bay Packers, understood man’s need for excellence well:
“I firmly believe that any man’s  finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle-victorious.”

Excellence is the Result of Whole Hearted Effort. Lombardi’s quote not only speaks of the satisfaction of excellence but in it gives us the recipe for Excellence: To work our “heart out” (to work wholeheartedly). To apply ourselves wholeheartedly is to make the most of the gifts, talents, and opportunities we have been given.  Wholeheartedness means doing whatever we do with our “whole” might!  I believe working wholeheartedly also means doing whatever we do with the right attitude. When we work with gratitude and joy for the opportunity, it is much easier make our best effort!

Excellence begins in our Mind. We are what we THINK. Throughout the ages, from King Solomon to Stephen Covey, it has been clearly understood that the quality of our life is dependent on our quality of our THINKING. Our THINKING (Mindset-how we see things) drives our actions and our actions create our results! Therefore, to pursue Excellence we must start with Excellent THINKING. The Apostle Paul gave this exact advice to the people in Philippi almost 2000 years ago:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  (Philippians 4:8)

For more on THINKING see Programming your Mind for Success.

Excellence doesn’t require Perfection. It is the pursuit of perfection, not the attainment that sets us apart and creates Excellence in our lives! Once again the Apostle Paul shared this principle when he wrote to the church in Philippi:

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal…But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize… 
(Philippians 3:12-14)

All men reach and fall. We are defined by our ability to keep moving forward despite our setbacks, mistakes, and failures. Many are paralyzed by failure because they focus on the failure and not the progress. Remember we are a work in progress. Sometimes we are up; sometimes we are down. Sometimes we are more victorious than other times. But the progress is movement forward. Remember, 2 steps forward and 1 step back means you are still 1 step ahead. Excellence is created by perseverance, not perfection. Winners like Michael Jordan knew this:

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.“              

Excellence requires a Decision. Nothing great ever just happens. We must decide who we are to be. We must decide what we truly value. We must decide to live with Excellence and then we must act. We must be willing to do what the average will not.

Our hope is that in some way this blog can help ignite that flame that burns deep inside you to become better than you are. Join us in becoming lifelong students of excellence. As a student of excellence, you take personal responsibility for your own wherewithal and actions and begin your lifelong pursuit of your God-given potential for EXCELLENCE!