A class on Excellence

consultancy_excellence_conceptFour types of kids we had, growing up in my school. The kids who would always read and work hard at their academics but would fail nonetheless, the kids who would work hard at their academics and pass, those who would not put in any effort and of course fail, and those who put in no effort at all but somehow passed in the end. And of course, the report card of every student was based upon their grades, and not really how hard they worked.
Now, while it is very important to get great grades in school, its all the more important to learn to achieve even before grades. Like it is said, the fun’s in the journey, not just the destination.
The thing we earn from school is not just our grades or performance slips. More than just that, we learn how to handle assignments and how to see things through. We learn habits and interaction with people, and that success has rewards, and how to abide by rules, and hierarchy in organizations and so much much more that is not really gradable.
The academic report slip is limited in its assessment of a student and how much he has learned from a particular class. Because, after all, the student did learn a lot more than is reflected on the report card.
Many people I have met like to believe that excellence lies in the finished product. So that a pianist played excellently, or a lady dressed smartly or a student graduated top of their class. We think this is where the excellence lies.
Excellence doesn’t lie in the product, it lies in the process, so that the pianist didn’t play excellently, He is an excellent pianist. The student didn’t excel at their academics, they are an excellent student. The lawyer didn’t do a great job, they are a great lawyer.
Excellence is in the process. You don’t play excellently at the event, you practice and put in work before the event. That’s what real excellence is. It is the long hours and sleepless nights to make yourself better at what you do.
Back to my school experience, the kid that’s putting in all the work and flunking on his grades, if not discouraged by the grades is actually learning more from school than the one that’s getting straight A’s without putting in effort. Excellence is not in the finished work, its in the process.
When I see a well done live dramatic or musical production, I do not only see the production. I see the rehearsal. When I see a great speaker, I see past his speech to the time he’s spent reading books, listening to wisdom and gathering information. When I see a good sports team or army, I see past just their victories and uniform. I see the detail of time spent on and by each individual during training.
If anyone is going to excel in life, they will have to learn to invest in process. One more time, excellence doesn’t lie in the product, it lies in the process. An excellent person is the one who submits to the process. You get the process right, you get all the products right. You neglect the process, you are just going to gamble with the product.
And as a customer really, I’d rather pay the price for excellence than suffer the limitless consequences of mediocrity.
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