Excellence In All Things

(Dedicated to all the fathers out there who lead the way, especially my own, who inspired this post.  Happy Father’s Day!) 

It’s putting back the lone grocery cart that wasn’t yours in the parking lot before the wind blows it into someone’s car. 

It’s stopping to pick up the soda can in the woods instead of stepping over it.

It’s obeying the speed limit, even with miles of open farmland in front of you. 

It’s Leaving No Trace (Go Boy Scouts!). 

Excellence is striving to do the right thing, always, especially when others are lazy/impatient/apathetic.   It is a challenging, life-long journey.  The mental pull to “just leave it for the next person to fix” is constant and pervades our society.  However, when everyone thinks that way, small problems become big problems.  Consider a building with one broken window: one broken window becomes multiple broken ones, becomes spray painted walls….and so on and so forth.  Decay doesn’t happen all at once. 

It’s being creative in how you lead others.  At my last client, we had a late night code release.  A group of us were standing around, waiting for another team to finish a task so that we could move on to ours.  Leftover food that had been ordered in for our teams was just sitting there nearby.  I cleaned up the food and wiped down the table without saying a word.  A couple coworkers cracked some light-hearted jokes about it.  During the next release, I cleaned again. This time, others joined me.

It’s not taking shortcuts.  A couple months ago, I needed to update my mobile app Fitwatchr to a new behind-the-scenes technology.  It was tempting to do the bare minimum, which would have saved me tons of time/effort but at the expense of my users, who would have been confused and inconvenienced over why the app suddenly stopped working.  The change went live with no-one noticing. 

It’s honesty in the face of discomfort.  If you start with a small lie (perhaps trying to save face over something relativity unimportant), how do you think you’ll act after a bad habit has been formed and when it really counts?  It’s a slippery slope

It’s rationality in the midst of fear mongering.  “Faith in humanity restored!” and “Make America Great Again” are just plain silly.  Humans have always committed amazing but also terrible acts.  Nothing in recent history has changed the world - it’s just that in this Internet age, both extremes are readily present.  

As cliche as “Be the change you want to be in the world” is, it’s true.  The choice is yours to avoid negativity, embrace a positive outlook, and strive for Excellence. 

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