Saturday, January 22, 2011

In Pursuit of Excellence

The other day, I saw a car commercial on TV. The Car? LEXUS. Their U.S.P. (unique selling point)...The Pursuit of Excellence. It got me to thinking about...

WHAT IS EXCELLENCE? defines excellence as: ex·cel·lence (ks-lns)n.
1. The state, quality, or condition of excelling; superiority.
2. Something in which one excels.

If we focus on the sub-definition of excellence as, Superiority, we begin to boil down this ocean of this massive word. I Am Excellent --does this mean that I Am Superior? Of course it does. But superior to

Students of Encouraging-People and/or Personal Development, would suggest that Human Beings strive to be a Superior Self in relation to who and what we were previously (i.e. yesterday, last week/year, a few moments ago).


Career-minded persons focus upon their weaknesses rather than strengths in order to achieve excellence. Going back to our sub-definition, superiority; we have now elevated Excellence into Superiority into Nirvana. Let's call this, 'The Nirvana-Effect.' With your career, we want excellence via achieving this Nirvana-Effect.
My salary is adequate...UNTIL, I find out that my co-worker earns $0.25 cents per hour more than do I. No way, I'm better worker than is she. I deserve more than...I Am Superior -- I Want to have Nirvana.

In another life, I was a Grocery Store Manager.  After having completed a career as a military soldier, I believed that I could achieve excellence within Any occupational field. But the grocery business presented a unique set of challenges for me.

Putting things into perspective, the Store Director asked me to accompany her through a walk of the store aisles. She asked, "What do you see?"

 I responded with, 'Shelves filled with cans of food...' "WRONG ANSWER," she quiped!

Madam Store Director then began a systematic and detailed analysis of the state and condition of each aisle of my department. She magnified the placement of the cans on the shelf. She correlated the brand category of the aisles' designation with relation to store ROI -- P&L (retail accounting buzz words...not really important for this discussion).

Boiling down her commentary, the effect was her perception of excellence. Craftsmanship...


This Store Director said that my department did not display Craftsmanship (a.k.a. Excellence). "When Bill, in the Meat market department, is on duty, his department displays Craftsmanship. I'm not seeing this with your department."

This experience taught me one thing -- and that is this. Excellence equals Craftsmanship!

My pursuit of excellence (a.k.a. Craftsmanship) has been ongoing ever sense (10 years). However, facing my 51st birthday (January 24, 2011), I'm seeing that Excellence is elusive. A Wild Tiger. A Greased Pig. A
Pollo Loco. A Cat with her tail on fire.


The other day, my paycheck was SKINNY! As a commissioned sales consultant, compensation is somewhat feast or famine. This skinny paycheck led to a degree of stress in my household. I began to feel unhappy.

After a considerable amount of time, I began to recognize what was going on. I had allowed my paycheck to determine my level of happiness in the moment. Further analysis suggested that I had begun to equate my
personal happiness with a direct relationship to the income received. How Sad!

Returning to the concept of Craftsmanship, I'm reminded of the Shakespearian quote, Beauty is in the Eyes of the Beholder. My old Store Director did not see craftsmanship with her trained eye. I believed that I had achieved Excellence because I had put in 12 hours of Hard work, True Grit, and persistence doesn't spell excellence nor craftsmanship.


However you define Excellence, you and I want to have more of it. Excellence is having a 50 inch plasma television with High-Definition HD. Excellence is not only having a job, but having a career wherein I
make $0.25 more per hour more than the fella in the next cubicle. Here's the rub. Until I am able to really define Excellence (a.k.a., what it is that I want), I'm not gonna get excellence.

Of course, I want to make more money. And yes, I want to have a Job plus benefits plus a beautiful PUPPY (gotcha). Yet Excellence and Craftsmanship and Happiness, are not Me -- the words don't define me. These 3 words, are simply words. I am as I am -- in the moment.

"To Infinity and Beyond!" exclaimed Toy Story's Buzz. Profound words, indeed.

Monday, January 17, 2011

I Have a Dream -Dr Martin Luther King Jr Day

 I'm celebrating the King Holiday 2011. In one of my earlier blog posts, I wrote about one of Dr. King's speeches:

Our work is to feed the belief and the hope. Translation: The Dream! Famous philosophers, politicians, civic leaders, and military generals have all spoken and acted upon the faith and confidence of their Big Dream. Dr. Martin Luther King said, “I Dream of a day when little black boys and girls will play together with little white boys and girls.”

Of course, the work must continue. Yet I want to address an issue that has left a small lump in my throat. Specifically, it concerns The King Holiday.

All over America, Modern-day citizens of color will see this day as a reprieve from their income-producing gig. Oh sure, there will be speeches, and picnics, and some serious TV watching. But it be akin to our observance of Christmas...on a smaller scale. The reason for the season.

What's the Big deal about King's day?
The King holiday is a 20th Century phenomenon; a civil observance if modern day magnamity. I myself was a young boy, in the 70's, when the President signed the bill officially designating King Day as a Federal Holiday. Sadly, it took another +20 years for a majority of states to mark the observance. Private industry...well, that's another story.

Fast forward to 2011. Business observe the holiday only upon being forced to. Whether by public scrutiny -- or by some federal contractural mandate. I know personally of one regional bank in Texas that observes the holiday due to federal regulation. it's non-bank subsidiaries continue with "business as usual." Shame On Them. 

Persons of Color neglect to teach their children of the King Dream...civil disobedience for the greater good. Even the celebrations are watered-down -- weak-in-the-knee stuff. Local speakers, usually preachers, provide the inspirational messages of Dr. King. Personally, I'd love to hear a Congressman, Governor, Billionaire, or a member of Royalty deliver the tribute.

Where Do We Go from Here?

The revolution will not be televised, goes the lyrics of Gil Scott Heron's song. However, we're living in the digital age. We can televise the message. I Can, You Can, We Can!

In this lifetime, the people have the power. What people? You & I; the ones that read, speak, do, act, and participate. This Day, is not a simple day. It is Our day!

 Are you Caucasian? King's day is Your Day. Asian --Your Day.

Color/Negro/African-American...your day as well.

Reflecting on Dr. King's message, his dream was for all to come together. Not only for Blacks...for all.

Dr. Martin Luther King said, “I Dream of a day when little black boys and girls will play together with little white boys and girls.”