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The pursuit of excellence

What does excellence mean to you?

The word excellence can mean different things to different people. But it does trigger the names or visuals of a few greats that we all know. Who is considered the greatest person in the world today? The Buddha? Albert Einstein? Dr Abdul Kalam? Is it because people who emulate a life in the pursuit of excellence attain greatness in their respective fields? In the blog Learner Circle explores the meaning of excellence and what it means to be in the pursuit of excellence? In our mission to spread the love of learning among the younger generation, we have always emphasized the importance of perseverance, consistency and hard work. At the crux of all these values is the attainment for excellence.

Read about the importance of practice here :

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The pursuit of excellence

What is the pursuit of excellence?

The pursuit of excellence can refer to actively investing time in persevering to achieve a goal or nurture a passion. It’s a constant effort to improve and get better. It is a common aspiration among growth-oriented people to try to attain expertise at a much higher level than others. For adults it could mean more effort to achieve success at work or to try to gain recognition among peers. With young kids, it could be setting up a routine to encourage them to finish off important tasks so that they have time to invest in practicing or nurturing a hobby like music, art or a sport.

Why is the pursuit of excellence important?

It is important to build focus and discipline so that one keeps getting better to achieve their potential. It also provides a sense of purpose and meaning to life. Attaining excellence can be applied to any skill like music, singing, dancing, coding, sketching math, aeronautical physics or chemical equations. Many times, we toy with the idea of it, or being a routine with new resolve and look at it from afar thinking ‘I should try that’ but never really attempting to work towards it. What are key attributes when considering the pursuit of excellence?

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It's important to stay self-motivated

The key attributes in the pursuit of excellence:

Beginning a journey towards excellence is not easy. A certain level of excellence can be attained with innate ability but with purposeful effort, much change can’t be achieved. But are all great people great because they are born that way. For example, Mozart composed his first symphony at the age of 9 and performed his first opera at the age of 12. This seems overwhelming for children. But Mozart started early. A lot of experts attribute Mozart’s abilities to being born differently. While prodigies could have characteristics that match with certain areas of interest, experts cite that nobody can be born great.

Studies strongly link learning to attainment of skills than biology. Even prodigies are required to learn their skills just like other people, they just start earlier and work harder

This is an article that highlights the importance of learning for children:

Acquire a large knowledge base

The first step towards excellence is to acquire a large knowledge base in the area of excellence. Usually highly driven individuals are highly curious and have a strong drive to learn more about their domain of interest. Parents can help children who display a lot of interest in a certain area by registering them for classes/ workshops or assisting them with research based activities. Once kids attain their knowledge, their cognitive skills can help attain a higher level of performance. With a high level of commitment both children or adults can persevere to consistently improve.

But, most importantly lots of practice is required. Malcolm Gladwell popularized the concept with his book that highlighted the importance of 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to achieve excellence. Although many experts can't vouch for this number, it’s important to start practice early and more consistently. This calls for sustained, focused, planned and concentrated practice. That is full attention is given to the task at hand. So, the pursuit of excellence cannot be achieved if one is lacking in knowledge, commitment, practice, and consistency.

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Hard work is an important aspect in the pursuit to excellence

  1. Invest in you

Whatever be the goal, it is important to be your best self to attain it. A top performer athlete for example, naturally needs to focus on building top physical health, balanced nutrition, and a good training routine. This applies for other pursuits like music, academic or entrepreneurial as well. Many studies have linked a high level of fitness to high levels of mental performance. So, to be an expert at your chosen field, one needs to be at their best self. In his book ‘essentialism’ Greg Mckeown, states that pursuing excellence is a form of essentialism. What the author tries to say is that it is important to eliminate all that is not essential from life and work with deliberate focus. He also points out the importance of sleep for ambitious people. According to a HRB article ‘Sleep Deficit: The Performance Killer, many employees who are sleep deprived at work display the mental capacity of a drunk person. Almost every system in our body is impacted by extended periods of sleepless nights. While the pursuit of excellence is important, it is also important to take care of oneself.

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Invest in you

In order to sustain the journey towards excellence, it is important to look within for meaning in achieving the goal.

  • It's also important to be self-motivated.

  • Many experts recommend using the what-if thought experiment on the journey towards excellence.

  • It is also best to pursue excellence for the sake of it and not for some external reward.

  • Always surround yourself with excellence.

The takeaway

As Norman Vincent Peale wrote, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” So, it is important to keep persevering, for the journey towards can be difficult and fraught with challenges. If you are looking for courses to improve your skill or to achieve expert-like skills, please do visit our website for details.

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