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You must be the change you wish to see in the world.
-- Mahatma Gandhi


The MONTHLY Motivator - July 2003

50 Steps to Excellence

As long as you’re going to live, and work and play, do it with excellence. Life is not meant to be half lived. We’re so afraid of death that we don’t even talk about it, yet we kill ourselves a little bit each day when we don’t live that day to the fullest.

Here are 50 techniques for living a life of excellence. Of course there are many more ways -- this list is certainly not meant to be all-inclusive. However, it is meant to get you thinking, and to help you look at ways in which you can bring excellence to everything you do.

1. Follow through, follow up. Starting new things is exciting, and demands a great deal of effort. Finishing them really doesn’t take that much more effort. Yet because the follow through is often not as exciting, we tend not to do it. What a waste! Many times, just a little more effort to finish the job will bring big results. Follow up and follow through, and make the most of the time and effort you’ve already invested.

2. Do what you can do. Rather than getting stuck on something you don’t understand or are unable to do, move on and get busy doing something you can do. Worry and frustration are a big waste. They accomplish nothing. Keep on track by finding something you can do.

3. Do it right the first time. You’ll be much more efficient when you only have to handle things once. The extra time you take to get it right the first time, will pay off because you won’t have to go back and fix it later.

4. Be honest. You simply cannot cheat life. You may be able to get by with it for a while, but in the end your dishonesty primarily cheats yourself. When you’re honest, you can live and work without the constant distraction and worry of being found out, of having your house of cards collapse. Honesty often requires sacrifice, and it is well worth it in the value it brings to all you do. Your reputation is one of your biggest assets, and it makes sense to build and protect it continually.

5. Know yourself, know your strengths and weaknesses and use that knowledge to do what you do best. Know your limits. Know when to turn down an assignment or delegate work to someone else. Know what you’re really good at, and then find ways to apply your skill and create value.

6. Expect the best of yourself, and of those you work with, of life, and you’ll get it. Your expectations play a key role in the reality of everything you do. Your mind is a powerful goal-seeking device. When you point it in the right direction, with positive expectations, it will do whatever is necessary to get you where you want to go. The more consistently you keep your mind on your positive expectations, the faster they will become a reality. Expect the best of those around you, and you generally will get it. Give people responsibility and respect, and they will usually be deserving of it. More than anything, expect the best from yourself. Talk to yourself in positive terms. You are constantly talking to yourself. Your thought patterns reinforce your expectations, over and over again, all day long, day after day after day. The least little bit of negativity, repeated again and again, can build itself into an invisible wall of negative expectations. Learn to expect the best from yourself. In the way you talk to yourself, in the way you plan for the future, in the choices you make. Ask yourself, as often as possible, what you would do if you were truly headed in the direction of your goals. And then just do it.

7. Challenge yourself. Challenge forces you to grow, to build, to create, to excel. Challenge can motivate. It can teach you new skills and help you make new contacts. It builds confidence and competence. Seek out challenge, put forth the effort to meet the challenge. You will grow stronger and more effective. Being open to challenge will bring excellence to your life. The person you become in the pursuit of your dream is worth far more than any dream could ever be. What you get from challenging yourself, no one can ever take away.

8. Give it your best, and then a little bit more. Sometimes just a little bit of extra effort will result in a big improvement. Look for ways to leverage what you have already done by making incremental improvements. It doesn’t take that much more effort to do something as well as you possibly can. And as long as you’re going to do it anyway, doesn’t it make sense to give it your all? Yet, far too many people try to get by with as little as possible. And because of that, if you do just a little bit more than the minimum, you will rise above the crowd. If you show just the least bit of extra initiative, you’ll be more successful than 95% of the people in this world. Everyone has the same amount of time. Success and achievement come to those who put the most effort into the time they have.

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--Ralph Marston

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