Pursuing a Vision of Excellence
A dear friend recently said to me, “You can squeeze more into a day than anybody I know. How do you juggle so many things?” Her motherly tone betrayed a certain degree of concern, as if I was surely headed for burnout. Taking a step back, I could see where she was coming from. I do stay very active, but despite my full schedule, I don’t run on adrenaline or push myself too far. As much as I wanted to smile sweetly and say, “It’s easy… I have no husband!” I decided to share a bit of wisdom instead. One of my favourite poems has always been “The Art of Living” by James Michener.
It goes like this: “The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labour and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing.“ “He simply pursues his vision of excellence….” What a great line! Isn’t that what life is really all about? The highest performing people in the world are clearly pursuing a vision of excellence – and in the process, they create remarkable results. When you really focus on and commit to your vision of excellence, work isn’t labour – its progress. Instead of draining you, it excites you. Instead of pushing towards the goal, it feels like you’re being pulled. The goal becomes utterly compelling. It’s easy to focus and stay engaged in your work when you feel personally committed to, and aligned with, what you’re doing. It’s at this point that massive results become nearly effortless. THAT is exactly what I want for my life – and for your life too! So let’s take a minute to ask ourselves: how do we develop that relationship to our work? How can we stay focused on a vision of excellence? Here are eight strategies that will help you master the art of living:
- Maintain a strong personal foundation – Eat healthy foods, exercise often, sleep well, feed your brain and clear out your emotional baggage. After all, if your foundation isn’t strong, you really can’t build much on top of it, can you?
- Streamline and optimize your life wherever you can. Stay organized in all parts of your life – clothes, tools, filing, calendar, house, resources, finances, contacts, vehicles, etc. Adjust your processes and work on your habits to make life as effortless as possible.
- Stick to your strengths - Do you have a solid sense of your own personal strengths? If you haven’t done so yet, take some time to get crystal clear on them. Think about the things that come easily to you, the things that people consistently complement you on. If you struggle with this, ask friends and family for input, or try a free strengths assessment online. Once you know what you’re best suited to do, you can adjust your life to invest more time and attention in those areas.
- Become a masterful delegator – When you embrace the “stick to your strengths” philosophy, you learn to be on the lookout for the strengths of other people too. If you’re not good at something, or you just don’t like doing it, find someone with a talent for that particular task. Why tie up your own creative energy in something that you’re just not suited to do? My mantra is, “Do it, dump it or delegate it!”
- Grow your network - Research shows that most millionaires have an extensive database of connections, which positions them as a hub of resources, knowledge, connections and creative ideas. They become “mavens” – people who accumulate knowledge and information in a lot of different areas. Do you know who and where to go to get knowledge or things done well? Continue to develop your network of contacts over time and establish a system to stay in touch with these people. They can make your life much easier!
- Be a thread follower – Whether you’re reading a book, or having a conversation, or watching a show, or even daydreaming in the shower… if something captures your attention or sparks a question, follow that thread. Make a note, do some research, ask some questions. So many times, by following a thread, a door of opportunity will open up.
- Know and leverage the power of environments. Thomas Leonard, the founder of personal coaching, described seven environments that have a profound impact on people: physical (home, work, possessions), interpersonal relationships (professional, personal, familial), network of contacts (colleagues, customers, web contacts, circle of influence), nature (seasons, animals, plants, outdoors) and memetic (ideas, events, information, thoughts), yourself (body, talent, heart, spirit, personality), and intangible things like space, values, and energy sources. Explore these aspects of your own life… how can you adjust them so they have a better influence on you?
- Confidence – When you feel fully committed to the work you are focused on, let that commitment carry you through any shadows of doubt or fear. In other words, feel the fear and do it anyway! If you know you’re on the right track, it won’t be too hard. Just keep your attention on where you want to go.
Each person’s vision of excellence is highly personal. If you encounter those (like my dear friend) who question your pace or commitment, stand up for your vision of excellence, not with righteousness or indignation, but with pride and certainty. After all, in the art of living, your life is your masterpiece. Make it grand!
About the author
Margaret Page, founder of Beyond the Page Coaching Ltd., is passionate about helping successful professionals achieve their highest vision of success. With over 30 years as an entrepreneur and business leader, Margaret has helped countless professionals find focus, build efficiency, and eliminate overwhelm. Guided by her personal mission to inspire, encourage and motivate, she empowers people with the resources, tools and understanding they need to achieve extraordinary results in record time. As the head of Etiquette Page Enterprises, Margaret is also a recognized expert in business etiquette and international protocol. As a dynamic trainer, Margaret conducts inspiring programs and private consultations, with customized sessions that address each person’s individual needs.For information about Margaret’s coaching program, or to sign up for her newsletter, “A Page of Insight,” please visit her online.