Richard Maun – The Curious Paradox Of Excellence

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The Curious Paradox Of Excellence

1 March 2015

In business we talk all the time about ‘excellence’, in terms of providing customers with an excellent service, or promoting excellent leadership. 

However, how often do we stop and consider exactly what excellence really is?

A few days ago I was lucky enough to be in a Transactional Analysis workshop where we did just this and what I thought was an easy question to answer turned into a neat little paradox.

This is because the reality of excellence is this:

Excellence is being good enough.

Yes, it’s that simple. If we go beyond being good enough then we can over-invest for increasingly reduced returns and lose the essential goodness that we have already created.

For an example we can think about popping into our kitchen and making ourselves an excellent sandwich. We might add cheese to bread. Is that excellent? If we add lettuce and mayonnaise is it excellent now? If we add another layer of bread and cheese and more garnish and then serve it on an antique china plate do we now have an excellent sandwich?

No. Our sandwich was excellent when it was good enough.

If we aim for excellence and we don’t know what excellence is then we are committing ourselves to more and more and more. It’s never ending. It’s an illusion and we can avoid the trap by simply making sure we are good enough. 

This week we can think about the curious paradox of excellence and ask ourselves if our work is really good enough? If it is then we can know we have found excellence. 

Next week: Responsive Or Rescuing?


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