I seek excellence in all that I do. I do not discern between making my bed, wearing the uniform, or working on a project at work. Even as the output varies, some days I just am not that good, the input and the intention remain the same: give your maximum effort.
There are challenges along the path of excellence, and many of these errors can be fixed. But you have to commit to the vision in order to enact the change.
The first, only seeking excellence when people are watching. If you fall into the habit of only putting in your best effort in the presence of a supervisor or mentor, then you become vulnerable to falling in your performance in the time of their absence. At that point, your excellence is dependent on the praise and admiration of another person who may not always be there to cheer you on. In order to fix this, you have to ensure that your expectations for yourself always exceed the expectations others have set for you. When others think you have done the highest and excelled, that’s the new floor you should work on.
The second, setting limits based on what is immediately attainable. The value of short-term goals is undeniable, they keep you on track. But if your goal is to become a petty officer third class, or maybe one day a chief – or in civilian terms, if your goal is to become a manager, guess what you will become – a third class or a chief or a manager. Great. You have accomplished your goal, but you have also set a limit for yourself. Pursue excellence and set a new standard – let your position or title become secondary. Become truly excellent. Strive to become the subject matter expert, to exhaust every topic, learn it in depth. Practice the skill of blind recall, where you begin with a blank page and recreate entire scenarios, books, missions, plans. Then execute and understand why every decision is made.
The third, see the highest score as the highest score. Avoid thinking in numbers – when you take exams that gauge physical fitness, avoid focusing on the chart. Seek to maximize your output in the 2 minutes rather than reach a certain number and stop. If the max pushups for your age is 74. That is the max for the average group of your peers who are at that fitness level. That should be your baseline.
Pursuing excellence is a 24-hour op. There are no breaks, and there are no shortcuts. You must tread on.