It is often said that the best leaders and successful people have strong personal convictions from which they operate. It is no wonder then, why excellence is one of the values found in this group of people.

You can ‘try to do’ excellent work when prompted, or choose to live in such a way that everything you do reels of excellence by default. This is not about being obsessed with perfection but about doing everything with a conviction that says I respect myself enough to ensure that whatever I do is done with integrity and to a quality standard.

People who value excellence have it ingrained in them like a habit and their work usually stands out. They have a high level of self-awareness and operate from an authentic position. They choose to maintain the same calibre of standards irrespective of where they find themselves or whose company they happen to be in.

Unfortunately, the shocking trend seems to be that most people only pull out the big guns when certain people are around, to impress them or when they have ulterior motives to get something else. Otherwise, they tend to just maintain a mediocre stance and worse still, other people even expect this mediocrity!
I was raised to do my chores to a high standard and whenever I fell short, I was made to start over until I eventually just started with a high standard by default. This is a personal conviction I have chosen to keep with me because as an adult, I understand that whatever I do for others represents me and also shows how much I respect the recipients of my service.

Having a belief system of working with excellence doesn’t just give self-fulfilment, but ascribes integrity to your name which will bring you before great opportunities.

At the opposing end of excellence is mediocrity. Just as excellence can be a decision, mediocrity is also a choice. It’s just like the saying that not making a decision is a decision in itself. If you are not striving for excellence in the things you do, you are surely choosing to remain mediocre in your dealings.

A mediocre lifestyle thrives on doing and being average and there are some notable markers of mediocre people.

1. Procrastination
It is a well-known fact that procrastination is one of the greatest enemies of productivity. We can all think of times we have put off something we could probably have done in the moment. Where it becomes a marker of mediocrity is when procrastination becomes you.

If you find yourself more often than not leaving tasks till last-minute and ending up in a frantic mode, you have subconsciously chosen a lifestyle. The truth is that in such a state, you are more likely to not prioritize excellence in your work.

2. ‘Barely get by’ mind-set; not doing your best.
I have worked with a number of people over a period and watched their initial enthusiasm for their new job fade away over time. A lot of factors could play a role here. They may discover it’s not what they expected or hoped for or may have been negatively influenced by other mediocre people at work.

What is certainly obvious is the effort they initially put in dips over time and their goal becomes to do just enough to get the pay check. This sort of ‘barely get by’ mind-set does not produce excellence and such people end up settling for average lives.

If you work anywhere or are a part of something that you don’t believe you should give your best to, you are losing time and losing out on the opportunity to be excellent at doing something you love.

3. Following your feelings.
Feelings are fickle. They tend to go with things we ‘want’ and not necessarily what we ‘need’. The fact is to be consistently productive, we often have to do what is needed despite opposition from our emotions.

Your feelings will want to just do enough or average. They love the comfort zone. Such is the life of mediocrity and you will only rise to excellence when you learn to rise above your feelings.

When you value excellence, you are mindful that there would be moments your emotions would try to hinder you from being productive, hence, you become proactive about establishing a well thought out personalised system to follow, irrespective of your feelings.

4. Not having a dream, aspiration or life goal.
When you live day-to-day, just doing enough to survive, you don’t tend to live for anything or in fact, truly live. To have a dream means you have a goal or destination to aspire towards that keeps you on your toes, working at your craft till it oozes of excellence with ease.

We all have the capacity to dream and develop talent and skills needed to achieve our dream. The difference between people who strive for excellence and those who settle for mediocrity is while mediocre people depend on external pressure or motivation to perform, people who value excellence draw from internal motivation and drive. They don’t wait for, or depend on situations or people to be productive.

Now that we have identified some common mediocrity markers and their limitations, let’s look at a few ways to tip the scale towards a life of excellence.

1. Change your perspective.
Perspectives birth motives and motives birth visions. If you can see yourself as unique, and capable of achieving whatever you set your mind to, you will draw from this inner motivation and conviction to produce excellence in whatever you choose to do.

One of the most efficient ways to change your perspective in life is to be more self-aware and practice reflection.

Don’t just see where you are now, but see what you could become too!

You have the ability inside to be excellent at something you are passionate about. What you don’t use, will waste away. Don’t throw away your chance to become the best at your craft by settling for a mediocre life.

2. Start with the small things.
It is easier to develop a lifestyle of excellence when you start with little things around you. Try to do whatever you lay your hands on daily to the best of your ability or knowledge. It could be little things like making your bed, cooking, writing or helping someone with a task. When you deliberately discipline yourself to put your best in the little things, you would eventually take on the bigger jobs with an attitude of excellence.

3. Take initiative, do what no one else is willing to do.
To be a person of excellence is to be uncommon and highly productive. You make yourself indispensable when the things you do in both your private life and career spells ‘under-promise and over-deliver with quality’. One sure way to get to this level is to take initiative. Taking initiative can either present as seizing an opportunity when it arises or even being proactive by envisaging problems and working to resolve them before they surface. While others remain at ‘talk the talk’, you step up another level by ‘walking their talk’.

4. Develop GRIT; persist and persevere.
The willpower to take that extra step, is what would differentiate you from being average. That power comes from your level of GRIT. High achieving individuals have harnessed this knowledge to become people of excellence.

Have you trained yourself to persevere and persist through pressure, challenges and obstacles? This is how to keep growing in stamina to be able to do what others would cower or draw back from. Start from where you are now. Take on those challenges you have either postponed out of inner fear or goals that you have given up on. The most effective way to develop perseverance and persistence is by going through, not running away from.

Remember, your work reflects how you see yourself and how much you respect the recipients of what you do. Aim to always thrive from a position of excellence.

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