By Dr. Lisa Van Allen, Author of Your Belief Quotient (To be published in early 2013 by Hay House/Balboa Press). Reprinted with permission.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.”
Excellence is seen as a requirement for success in today’s culture. Somehow to simply do a good job is not enough. Average has been branded as mediocre and very good is barely enough. The problem with this thinking is it creates unrealistic expectations. No one can be great at everything all the time. Comparing ourselves to a certain standard of excellence can be beneficial and challenging in a healthy way. Comparing ourselves to others can be defeating and discouraging. There is a quote that has been floating around social media: “Don’t compare someone else’s highlight reel to your behind-the-scenes bloopers”. It is time to rethink our definitions and rebuild our beliefs around excellence.
In researching the Belief Quotient it was surprising to discover the high number of people who believe they strive for excellence but how few of these people believe they ever achieve it. Digging deeper we found skewed perceptions about mediocrity, excellence and perfectionism. Many of those we interviewed believed that if they were not the best in their field, they were not excellent and therefore were mediocre. This definition of excellence is based on comparing yourself and your work to others. The weakness in this method of defining excellence is that the measure is a moveable object and very subjective. Excellence needs to be based on an objective measure, goal or target.
We also talked to a number of people who believed that excellence means perfection. These folks analyze their efforts and scrutinize for any possible flaw. Praise for their work is discounted because they can always find something that could be better. They cannot claim excellence because perfection is an impossible goal.
Rebuild your beliefs around excellence by focusing on these statements:
- Excellence is a process, not an outcome.
- Excellence is a reflection of character, not achievement.
- Excellence allows for learning from mistakes, not harsh criticism.
- Excellence sees others in a supportive role, not an adversarial role.
- Excellence is willing to wait for mastery to be achieved and does not expect immediate results.
Anne Lamott says it well: “Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.”
Find more articles on building better beliefs on Dr. Lisa’s blog.
Want to know what your Belief Quotient is? Download the assessment here.
About Dr. Lisa Van Allen:
Dr. Lisa Van Allen is a clinical psychologist and Conscious Business Coach who blends passion and purpose with profit. With training and experience in clinical psychology, healthcare management, and Christian ministry, Dr. Lisa is passionate about helping people find and fulfill the purpose for which they were designed. As a speaker and a coach, Dr. Lisa uses humor and insight to break through belief barriers to help you move from sabotage to success.