Leading in a More Excellent Way

     Have you abandoned taking tangible steps in the direction of your dreams? Have you settled for leading a life far smaller and narrower than you’re capable of living? If you answered no and are currently doing something to stretch your abilities and explore the full extent of your capabilities, congratulations--you are in a small, select group of people who choose to lead their lives in a more excellent way.

     What specifically do I mean by leading your life in a more excellent way?  It’s simple. I’m saying you recognize the quality of your life is determined largely by the quality of your thoughts. Think small, live small. Choose to be average and the one thing that’s virtually guaranteed is that you will achieve your goal every time.

     However, if you chose to expand your view of the potential role you can play in the world, everything changes. Instead of being content taking the path of least resistance and accepting mediocrity as the norm, you are intent to become the best version of yourself possible by leading your life characterized by such terms as relevant, significant, and dare I say, excellent.

     Psychologists actually have a name for this built-in desire to become the best version of ourselves. It’s called actualizing tendency and derives from the belief we all possess a built-in motivation to grow, to develop, and to enhance our individual and collective capacities. Through such a lens then, we are viewed as leading our lives in a more excellent way anytime we are doing something productive to stretch our horizons, expand our boundaries, and build value into our surroundings.

     But if excellence is one of our primary aims in life, why is it we so often find ourselves missing the mark?  How is it that an attitude of “good enough,” what I term a mediocre me mindset, so frequently or conveniently becomes a suitable alternative to giving our best to build an excellent company, or be an excellent spouse, sibling, parent, politician, soldier, athlete, and on and on? The answer: the moment we allowed it to.

     The fact of the matter is, the majority of us fail to live up to our potential because we get so caught up worrying about all that could go wrong instead of focusing on all that might go right if we took proactive steps in the direction of our goals, ambitions and aspirations. Our fear of making a mistake, of being scrutinized, criticized or ostracized if we miss the mark, persuading us that mediocrity is a suitable alternative to getting outside our comfort zones in pursuit of our dreams.

     So what practical actions can we take to stay on the path to excellence instead of allowing the status quo to have its way with us? Begin by following these two simple rules:

  1. Resist the urge to settle by imagining possibilities instead of fixating on current realities. If you think about those leaders who make the greatest positive mark in their surroundings, you’ll recognize they start with a dream and then go out and search for the tools, techniques, or technology to make that dream come alive. Instead of fixating on the current reality of “what is,” they choose to think outside the box and cast a compelling vision of what “could be.” Then they get busy creating the very future they imagined. For example, when Apple released the iPhone, they were not just building on what everyone else was doing and hoped people would notice the difference. No, they completely rethought, redesigned and reinvented the entire way we think about the possibility of what phones could be and do for us. And time has shown their willingness to reimagine the possibilities transformed an entire global industry, virtually overnight.
  2. Become an Excellence Evangelist.  Although virtually all of us say we want to lead our lives in a more excellent way, few follow through. Why? Because it takes diligence, patience, commitment and above all, courage to keep moving forward when skepticism is high and confidence of success is low. Think of all the times you’ve set off to start a new diet, pursue a more rigorous exercise routine, committed to write your first blog, or attempted anything that stretched you far outside your comfort zone. If you’re like me, you’ll have memories of starting strong, of possessing the best intentions, but quickly falling back into old routines. The remedy? Begin by taking notice of when excellence shows up, both in your life and in the life of those around you. By taking time to notice what excellence looks like in tangible terms, you will also begin to recognize when it is absent. The more you’re exposed to both extremes, the greater the contrast between the two. And once you’ve taken note of the difference, the more likely you’ll try a little harder or fight a little longer to make excellence the consistent outcome of your life.

     Remember, if you are content only to see the negative implications instead of positive possibilities of what could be if you risked pursuing your dreams, you won’t get very far in life. But if you are intent on leading your life in a more excellent way, to give your best to whatever you’re doing and caring enough to ensure the value you deliver to your surroundings is greater than others expect, you are well on your way to living the life you’ve always wanted.

ExcellentWay - MediocreMe.com
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John E. Michel is a widely recognized expert in culture, strategy & individual and organizational change. An accomplished unconventional leader and proven status quo buster, he has successfully led several multi-billion dollar transformation efforts and his award-winning work has been featured in a wide variety of articles and journals, including the Harvard Business Review. John enjoys helping people learn to walk differently in the world so they can become the best version of themselves possible and is married to the most patient person on the planet. Together, they are blessed with two amazing sons. You are encouraged to learn more about John at his website, www.MedicoreMe.com
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