The famous English poet John Donne once wrote, ‘No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main… Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee’.
Allow yourself to listen for the bell. And before it tolls for you, allow it to be your wake up call.
In other words commit yourself to excellence for whatever you do before the time allocated to you in this world expires.
I mean borrow a leaf from Dr. Martin Luther King (jnr) who said ‘If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets as Michelangelo painted or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say; Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well’.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
If this is your first time to be in my talk, I am honored to be with you today. I know you are entrusting me with your time and your heart and I pledge to be a good steward of both. If not and you have attended one or more of my talks before, my talk today is not going to be different in principle since it is hinged on my core mission which is “to transform the latent energy of the Kenyan people and others in the rest of the world into active energy so that they are able to live a fulfilled life’’.
That is how I wish to live. It’s how I attempt to express my passion and core commitments. It is how I envision my own legacy. I want to be a symbol of higher yield, in life and in death. What about yourselves? Have you committed yourselves to excellence?
I wish to state at this juncture that I make no much claim of ownership or originality in some statement that I use here in this talk. What distinguished them is that I have been able, by the grace of God to prepare them for the ear and edit them for the heart and if you are ready to put your boat in water, you are welcome. It is my hope and prayer that you will be encouraged and enriched as you listen. I know you are the jury and the judge, let the evidence speak.
My talk today is entitled:
“The Power and Principles of Excellence”
I chose this topic because all what you will learn here will enable or allow you to look deeply into your minds and learn greatly that the quality of your life will be determined by the depth of your commitment to excellence no matter what your chosen field is.
So now, what are the principles of excellence?
- Do not settle for average
- Average is the grave where excellence is buried.
- You can never change what you accept.
- You can never change what you refuse to confront.
- You were never born to be average person.
- The greatest enemy to yourself is your last success.
- When you accept what you have done as if you have achieved everything then you begin to die.
- People of excellence never settle for average.
- Develop a deep commitment to excellence
- You should be the best then you should be first.
- The quality of your life will be determined by the depth of your commitment to excellence in whatever field you are in.
- In Florence (Italy), there is a special museum that was build to house the statue of David, created by Michelangelo several years ago. This is perhaps the most beautiful piece of sculpture in the world.
How did Michelangelo achieve this?
- He began the long, hard job of hammering and chiseling. It took him two solid years of work to create the rough outline of the statue. He then put his hammers and chisels aside and spent two more years polishing and sanding before the statue was complete. When the day came for its first public viewing, thousands of people came from all over Italy and gathered in the main square. When it was unveiled, the crowd stood gaping in aware. It was breathtakingly beautiful. People cheered, women fainted.
- Afterwards when Michelangelo was asked how he was able to create such a master piece, he replied by saying that he saw the David complete and perfect in the Marble. All what he did was to remove everything that was not the David.
- But remember, even after the David had been released from the marble, it took Michelangelo two solid years of sanding and polishing to turn it to a masterpiece.
- In the same way, you have also had to work on yourself, sanding and polishing, learning and practicing for days, weeks, months and even years to develop and bring out all the talents and abilities that lie deep inside of you.
- What a spirit of excellence!
- Possess Ethics and Integrity
- A person of excellence will always possess two things; ethics and integrity.
- Ethics are moral standards grounded on principles that govern your beliefs and convictions. It is a mental attitude that controls your beliefs based on your behavior
- Integrity is an integration of your words with your behavior.
- Morality is stronger than talent (ref. Joseph vs. Samson in the Bible).
- Excellence has a commitment to ethics and high morality and morality is stronger than energy. For example Samson laid his strength at the feet of beauty and Joseph was so strong on the inside that he dropped the towel and ran naked away from Pharaoh’s wife.
- Never let your gift take you where your character cannot keep you. In other words your gift will carry you where your character will keep you.
- “ You are not to accept bribe for the bribe blinds clear sighted men and can distort the words of righteous men” (Exodus 23:8)
- An excellent person shows genuine respect for others
- To respect means to honor, to esteem, to value highly, to place much worth on another.
- What are people to you?
- To others people are opportunities to use to get a head.
- People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
- “It is the individual who is not interested in his fellow men who has the greatest difficulties in life and provides the greatest injuries to others. It is from among such individuals that all human failures spring,” (Alfred Idler).
- Therefore, excellence manifests itself in honoring people.
- Go the second mile
- An excellent spirit goes beyond the call of duty.
- Excellence is manifested in people who are not afraid to do their best.
- How many people do you know who do only what you ask them to do?
- You beat 50% of the people by working hard.
- You beat another 40% by being a person of honesty and integrity and standing for something.
- The last 10% is a dogfight in the free enterprise system and if you have to survive here you have to go to the second mile.
- Remember responsibility is greater than rights.
- Be consistent
- Nothing is as frustrating as an inconsistent human.
- People forget how fast you do a job but will never how good.
- Never ask God for something you are not willing to go after.
- Consistency attracts promotion
- Another word for consistency is faithfulness.
- Consistency breeds consistency.
- Never stop improving
- Excellence is a spirit that is never satisfied.
- A person of excellence may be impressed by what he has done but never satisfied.
- Excellence is a gradual strive of trying to be better.
- Excellence is constantly growing
- If you grow, everything will get better
- A true excellent leader is always growing
- When you stop learning you start losing
- When you stop growing you start dying
- “Only the mediocre die always at their best. Real leaders are always improving- and raising their bar on how superbly can perform and quickly they can move,” (Jean Giraudoux).
- Always give 100%
- Excellent people are committed to get a head than getting home.
- Excellent people work not to get home but they work to build a home.
- Excellent people go beyond the call of duty in the realm of personal bride.
- They say I am doing this because this represents me.
- When they do a job, there is a sense of personal pride.
- They see their work as their signature.
- If you are ashamed of what you have done, then no one else should see it.
- Excellent worker sees himself/herself as always self-employed from the time he/she takes the first job until the time of retirement.
- You should see yourself as the MD of an Entrepreneurial Personal Services Company with one employee – yourself. If you want an increase in pay, you can go to the nearest mirror and negotiate with your “boss”.
- Make excellence a lifestyle
- Excellence must be a lifestyle.
- Do it right the first time all the time.
- Excellence is a choice, like attitude.
- You choose to be excellent.
- People will see you before they hear you.
- Look good to yourself.
- Your first time is your last chance to make an impression. Therefore let there be a spirit of excellence upon you.
- You appearance is a platform for your presentation.
- Quality is never an accident.
- Never compare yourself with others.
- People of excellence never look at what others are doing as a measure of success.
- Excellence is a spirit of competition with you.
- Excellence is competition with what you did last.
- Excellence is striving to complete what your mind knows you could do better.
- Do not become a copy of someone’s mediocrity.
- To be you and to become yourself is the essence of life.
- To help others to discover themselves and release themselves is the essence of living.
The author Arthur Gordon once approached Thomas J. Watson,, the founder of IBM and asked him how he would succeed twice as faster, Watson replied with these profound words:
“If you want to be successful faster, you must double the rate of failure because success lies on the far side of failure”.
In the same way, if you want to attain excellence faster, you must double the rate of improvement because excellence lies on the far side of improvement scale.