Success or failure is an outcome of competition and typically measured by comparison to others. Excellence, on the other hand, is all about being the best you can be through maximization of your capacity, skills and abilities to perform at your best. So it’s competing against your own weaknesses or words tapping into your own capacity fully.
By nature we have intense desire to beat others to claim success not necessarily to perform to the best of our abilities. 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.
Similarly when facing challenges in the business world, knowing the competition is relevant but I believe that if the employees performed to the best of their ability it would help them realize the maximum they could as a team. In fact, I do not advocate on competing but focus on winning. I have my team focus on teamwork, mastering the fundamentals, daily improvement and the process that excellence requires.
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.
Success means being the best. Excellence means being your best. Success to many, means being better than everyone else. Excellence means being better tomorrow than you were yesterday. Success means exceeding the achievements of other people. Excellence means matching your practice with your potential.
Individuals fail because of two main reasons, (1) inability to acquire new knowledge and skills, and (2) inability to invent the future. For each of these, two threads of degradation from success to failure can be identified. Both acquiring new knowledge and skills and inventing the future need an individual effort. The rate of success will depend on each one’s capacity and commitment. From a practical perspective, each individual is different in their abilities, so competing against others who have different abilities will not ensure success always but focus on getting the best out of your abilities through search of excellence will be a progressive step always.
(The writer is the head of the Sri Lankan unit of a US multinational and a much-sought after public speaker on corporate issues).