During my last year at the University, one of my teacher’s mantra was : “Excellence is a habit”.
I am a perfectionist so that’s something that definitively rang a bell. But I never explored that deeper nor went to the roots of what it means and especially of what it takes.
Until very recently when I visited one of my client in Belgium.
I could say Excellence was one of their mantra : the perfectly designed workspace, the technology used to support it, the coffee machine (offering a customizable blend of different types of coffee beans), the tea machine (with infusion time and water temperature based on the type of tea), even the hand-soap in the toilets had an amazing smell ! Needless to say I also tasted probably the best chocolates ever. But what really stroke me was how Excellence was anchored in their habits. From the way they work to the way they collaborate. It doesn’t mean it was perfect. But they were/are thriving towards Excellence. We went out for dinner and even there, food and beverage quality was at the top of the discussion.
And that actually also rang a bell : Excellence is not a one shot exercise. It is something which is deeply anchored in who we are, in what we are. It has been instilled and built into us from our youngest age (or later) by our parents or community, our work, our colleagues, a mentor, …
And when I say it has been built into us I literally mean it. In one of my first blog I spoke about how our brain creates automations to work faster and in a more efficient way. Excellence or thriving towards Excellence is one of these brain automations. And it’s never too late to build it.
And how our brain creates habits ? By repeating a behaviour again and again and again.
So when we repeat Excellence orientated behaviours, we anchor these behaviours deeply in who we are. When we push our team to repeat Excellence orientated behaviours, we anchor them deeply in the team. When we push Excellence orientated behaviours for our kids, we anchor them deeply in who they are (and will be).
In other words : we create habits.
This can be :
- Creating the habit of doing excellent work presentation : read twice an e-mail before sending it, check for typos or misaligned cells in a presentation, etc.
- Creating the habit of doing excellent work preparation : use a framework to prepare for the work, checklist, templates, etc.
- Creating healthy habits : have a sport routine, go for healthy snacks, etc.
- Creating the habit of excellent time management, client success management (wink wink), excellent analysis skills, problem solving skills, etc.
You’ll have to think about it twice the first times but then it will become automatic.
And as far as children are concerned, that can be as simple as fresh and good quality food (Belgian chocolates instead of chemical ones). They will develop the best chocolate palate ever or at least a taste for good quality food ! Trust me.
Let’s go and build Excellence in our lives.