Aiming for excellence


Image by nattu

 On Dan Millman’s blog, there was a recent entry that generated some interesting commentary (click here to see the entry and comments)

This is what was said that grabbed my attention: “I feel the aspect of achievement and success and making-something-of-oneself plays less of a role here in Europe. These are, after all, deeply American values, and sometimes it’s overburdening to me.

Dan’s response to this was that “I’ve never aimed for “winning” or for “success.” Only for excellence (which is all that we can control — the quality of our attention and effort, moment to moment). We can control efforts, not outcomes.

On the context of my recent experience with a performance review, these words really make you think. Our ‘performance culture’ in organisations has aimed for a very long time to measure & reward success (outcomes). We are even told that our objectives for the year need to be ‘Smart’: Specific, measurable, action-focused, realistic, and time-bound. Yet time and time again we focus on what is achieved, rather than the effort of the individual in achieving those outcomes. At my workplace, they do try to have a measurement for the ‘behaviours’ that generated the outcomes: Not so much the what but the how. Yet in both cases, the focus is very goal-oriented.

Dan’s comment reminded me that in looking at life, one can easily allow other-people’s-values become entrenched in the way we feel and think. This obsession with ‘success’ and ‘goal-orientation’ is a great example. Despite my focus on the journey; on the effort I put into learning from every moment; on the positive or negative experiences I create for myself and others; I continue to evaluate my success by (a) how much money I make, and (b) How others perceive my achievements.

So what are you aiming for? Perfection of outcomes, or excellence of effort? You be the judge.


3 responses to “Aiming for excellence

  1. Yes definitely, it seems that Americans and Europeans do tend to have different outlooks on life.

  2. Hola compatriota y co-apolide!
    Cheveres tus comentarios, estamos sin-cronizados en espacios (y talvez tiempos) diferentes.
    Queria solo crear un contacto.
    Hasta pronto!

  3. Amina – thanks for your visit and your comment, and sorry it took me so long to respond to your comment!

    In my experience, the European and the American perspectives are divergent more often than not. In many ways, Australians share perspectives with Europeans far more than with Americans.

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