By HRH Appolus Chu
Excellent or excellence is one word that people use so freely these days. Schools and parents celebrate children that make excellent grades. Companies talk about their products and services being of excellent quality, while urging their staff to be excellent-minded in the discharge of their duties. Countries and societies emphasize the need for their citizens and members to be excellence-driven.
Excellence has become such a high ideal that we all strive towards, because we realize that to be excellent is to be outstanding, uniquely different and of superior quality. It is to be set apart and regarded as the very best. A thing is excellent when it is the finest quality available.
Excellence is not cheap. It is not something you wish for or casually stumble upon. Excellence is a quality and character that people work very hard to acquire. Becoming a person of excellence or being excellent at whatever you do is something that you intentionally and purposefully work towards. Excellence is not a talent or gift that people are born with. It is not something you do only once or occasionally. It is something you do all the time, repeatedly and consistently. The famous Greek Philosopher, Aristotle, defined excellence as a habit that people devote their time to cultivating. He said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
Being excellence-driven will distinguish you in everything you do. That is because excellence is the standard for gauging everything we do. As a rule, people always go for excellence when they have to choose between two things. Nobody will settle for mediocrity or average when excellence is available. Excellence is about consistently maintaining a high standard and never compromising that standard for any reason or anybody.
Excellence is not easy to attain. It is because it is not easy to attain excellence that we usually settle for average and mediocrity. Students who make excellent grades in school achieve such grades at the expense of hanging out with their friends, having fun and playing games. They stay awake through the night, burning the midnight candle while others are chilling or sleeping. Their classmates make fun of them and call them all sorts of names because of their lack of interest in socializing. In reality, it is not that they do not want to socialize or play with their friends; it is just that they have come to realize that there is a price to pay for excellence. So, they commit themselves to paying that price by studying hard while others are playing.
The future belongs to those who have the edge on excellence and quality control. There are so many products in the market, so many specialists and workers in a particular field. In whatever career you find yourself, there are so many people competing with you for a share of the market. Only excellence will distinguish you from your competition.
A society can have many lawyers, security personnel, politicians and civil servants, but only a few of them would be excellence driven. The commitment of those few persons to excellence will stand them out from the crowd, and make them sought after by everyone whenever there is a need for people in their field. The excellent lawyer is the one everybody goes for when they need a lawyer to represent them. The excellent medical doctor will be overworked while others are begging for patients. The excellent police officer is the one every community will ask to be posted to serve in their area. There are excellence driven security operatives and there are those who are just in such forces to fill the number. There are excellent magistrates and judges who are committed to upholding justice, and there are those who just want to be known for the name. There are excellent governors and administrators doing their best to improve the trust that has been committed to them; and there are those who are only interested in the paraphernalia of office. There are excellent sports men and women who distinguish and always strive to outperform their previous performances at every meet; and there are those who are only used to complete the number or make up their teams. There are excellent husbands, excellent wives – indeed, in every sphere of life there are those who have committed themselves to excellence. Such people are the ones who end up recognized, admired, appreciated, and honoured.
Excellence doesn’t come by merely wishing it. Rather, it is by disciplining yourself to such a high degree that you are always demanding the very best from yourself and pushing yourself to the limits to attain it, that excellence is attained. The excellence driven person does not entertain short-cuts or sloppiness in anything they do. He or she foregoes so many things and personal comfort, in order to cultivate that spirit of excellence.
A company that is committed to producing excellent products pays maximum attention to quality control and does repeated checks on their systems to ensure that they put out the very best products. They do not compromise their quality delivery for any reason. Such companies insist on producing nothing less than standard. While others may compromise and package anything just so they can send their products to the market, the excellence driven company insists that having quality products and maintaining high standards is non-negotiable. We see this clearly in the world of pharmaceuticals where some drugs are mere rip-offs of some brand names and sold cheaply, yet no matter how much of it a sick person takes, their sickness only gets worse. But as soon as a doctor that is committed to excellence prescribes a brand from a company that does not compromise their quality, just one dose of the drug improves the condition of the sick person. The persons and organizations that do not compromise on standards have made excellence their signature.
Three or more factories may produce similar products, but people will only go for the best, and buy from that one which has proven itself to be committed to maintenance of outstanding quality. Everybody desires the best and only the best, at all times. Often the best is expensive, but the cost does not stop people from going for it. That is because excellence puts a person or product in high demand.
The excellence driven person, organization or country, is so committed to maintaining high standards that they are well known for their stance, and even their enemies or detractors cannot challenge or question their commitment to excellence.
The question is: Who do you want to become or what kind of product do you want to give to the world?
We live in a society where people want plenty of money and most of us seem more than willing, in fact eager, to trade excellence to get it. Some of our manufacturers produce substandard goods, because it is cheaper to do so and they think they can sell them faster. Sure, they may make some money to begin with, but at the end of the day their name and profile goes down the drains, while the name of the one that maintains high standards and is committed to excellence lives on. That is because people are naturally attracted to excellence and over time will shun mediocrity to locate excellence.
An organization or employer that treats their staff poorly, just to increase profits, will soon lose their best workers to organizations and employers that provide excellent working conditions for their staff. The massive brain-drain that most African and Third World countries are still suffering from – where their best minds, professionals and experts migrate to Europe and North America in search of jobs and better living conditions – can be traced to the fact that those First World nations these people flock to, have committed themselves to maintaining excellence.
The future belongs to those who are committed to excellence. They are not afraid of whatever circumstances or market situations that befall them. Whether there is economic boom, gloom, or doom; recession, inflation, or deflation – excellence will always be in demand. The commitment to excellence is what Ralph Waldo Emerson preached when he said, “If a man has good corn or wood, or boards, or pigs, to sell, or can make better knives, crucibles or Church organs, than anybody else, you will find a broad hard-beaten road to his house, though it be in the woods.” The American civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr., re-echoed that thought when he said, “Whatever your life’s work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.”
No matter how menial your work may seem, you will always find a job so long as you are committed to excellence. Package your product with a touch of excellence and you will never lack a market to sell to. Make personal excellence your lifestyle and great men and women will always want you in their circles.
The future is waiting for you – It is waiting for excellent people!
*The book, “The Future Belongs to People of Excellence”, is written by HRH Dr. Appolus Chu, the Egbere Emere Okori and Oneh Eh Nchia X, Eleme