Monday, June 8, 2015

Mediocre or Excellent. What will you be?

Mediocre or Excellent. What will you be?
There are probably many definitions of the word mediocre or mediocrity but my definition is “thinking and believing that I am doing the best I can.” Honestly, there is no harm in being mediocre but the world pays for excellence, brilliance. They pay for the diamond which has better clarity or cut, the footwear that is custom-made, the engineer who is more innovative; a doctor who is more skilled, pen which makes writing a pleasure, the car with the best engineering and aesthetics, the instrument which gives highest accuracy, the sound system with the superior quality sound. The list can simply continue. Bottom line is – there are too many contenders who are fighting to be mediocre. There is little value addition or differentiation for the better. The ones who have created excellence in their work or business have become established and developed a sustainable model for existence.
            Why do people or businesses in general tend to be mediocre? It is easy and does not require much effort. Why bother striving for perfection? Quite often it is the lack of internal motivation and misplaced cognition of what is it we really want. Everyone wants more money, better living standards and comfort but can we get it just by wishful thinking? We have to walk the extra mile and not only try to become above average but strive to improve – continuously, relentlessly. We have to take things to a particular state of conclusion. Till then the job is just not done and something that is half done is not worth much. 
Diana Waring said, "The difference between mediocrity and excellence is often a matter of effort."
            Whether it is our personal or professional lives or our business or even our commitment to the society, we must strive for excellence because this life is full of opportunities and nothing except our mind can stop us.    Obstacles in our life are mostly self-created through our perception and attitude. We can change them. We must change them. Yes, change is difficult and painful. It rocks our world and throws us into chaos but only from that can something new take birth, something that is well-defined and meaningful.
            Aiming for excellence in whatever we do (cooking, making the bed, writing letters or running a business) is within us. It is should become an intrinsic factor. This will immediately translate into a better quality of work. When we become conscious of quality as an individual the same percolates into our culture and the business we are in. This cascading effect reinforces how we conduct our business. We must develop a “need to achieve” within ourselves. Is there any harm in striving for perfection? One might contend that it can be a waste of time. But in the attempt for perfection we might end up delighting our customers and stakeholders which can suddenly give a geometric leap to our business. 

            Whether someone is watching or demanding or not; a job needs to be done with a commitment to accuracy with complete follow-through. My lawn tennis coach used to always stress on the need for follow-through in the strokes I played. He would say, “If your follow-through is good, you will achieve the results you desire. The job is not over when your racket connects with the ball, it has to be made to land in the required part of the opponents’ court to help you score a point or give you a tactical advantage.” Try throwing the ball in a bowling alley and restricting the follow-through. See where the ball lands up and how many pins fall. Once you offer a quotation, do you check back with the prospect if the rate is acceptable? Do you ask what else is required to secure the order? Once the order is secured do you keep the customer in loop about the delivery schedule, do you check back if the items were received as desired? Do you inquire if anything else can be done to improve the relation between you and your buyer or seller? Do you walk the extra mile? Do you make that effort? If not, try and do it. See the difference. Everything should be taken to its logical end and if it is a regular business transaction then the process has to be repeated every time without fail. That is how we can try to attain excellence and differentiate us from the herd.  
The easier way is to be inefficient, do poor quality work and resort to blame game or bribery, skimming, cheating to cover up for the slack. You can payoff people only so many times then you get stuck in the maze. The harder but more sustainable route is to set the systems right, create checks and balances, demonstrate compliance and demand the same from everyone else. Motivate yourself to do a job properly and with dedication every time without fail. Make the extra effort whether your job description calls for it or not. Many people get similar opportunities only few shine while the rest remain mediocre. Mediocrity is mundane, all pervasive and replicated at ease. Apple, Rolex, Rolls Royce, Victorinox, Faber are few examples of excellence. The world worships excellence, they aspire for those people, products or services and they are ready to pay the demanded price justified or not.
The only thing that stops you from rising above mediocrity and aiming for excellence is you.