In pursuit of personal excellence


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What do exceptional people do? My research reveals some interesting things that are often overlooked.

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In pursuit of personal excellence

  1. 1. Part of the "Living Organisation" s   Any differences? What are the differences that exist between those who pursue (and often achieve) excellence in their lives and those not motivated by that ideal? I wanted to explore some of the behaviours that sometimes go unnoticed in those who pursue personal excellence. Do they do different things? Do they do things differently? Over the last three years I have met and interviewed a range of leaders who have achieved some form of excellence in their pursuits. Like so many of us, I wanted to explore the reasons behind their success - but I wanted to identify some of the behaviours that don’t always get noticed. Here are a list of some of these behaviours. The good news is that many of these can be learned and cultivated as we pursue our own pathways to personal excellence. They seek help from their friends and colleagues It’s remarkable how often these leaders ask for help from friends and colleagues. They’re comfortable in being seen to ask for help, and know it isn’t a sign of weakness. They’re aware that, as leaders, they are not expected to always know the answers. They hang out with exceptional people It’s a widely held belief that we’re influenced by those we interact with the most. The leaders all told me they spend a lot of time studying - in whatever way possible - the lives of successful people in the field of relevance to them. They might do so by reading their books or attending their lectures. Doing so means they advance their own position by seeking wisdom from others. 1 What do exceptional people do? Dr Norman Chorn | | | In Pursuit of Personal Excellence Some often overlooked behaviours of successful people
  2. 2. They share visions and principles generously In my discussions with these leaders, it became obvious that they believe in sharing their visions and views generously. They don’t mind being open about their intentions, as they see the benefits of such behaviour during periods of change. But, these leaders will say just enough to be perfectly understood - and then move to favour action over talk. They are not perfectionists Many of these leaders dispute the long-held belief that perfectionism is a sign of excellence. Instead, they see it as a real brake on progress as it stops you from moving on. The pursuit of excellence is an on-going dynamism. It’s something that keeps moving as we learn and develop our capabilities further. They know that skill is not enough Many of these leaders spend an exceptional amount of time engaging in and practicing their particular skill. Research has shown that practice is often the key difference between those who simply show promise and those who achieve excellence. Having the talent or skill is not good enough. It needs to be continually worked on. They get their hands dirty These leaders demonstrate a willingness to do what it takes when the situation demands it. Part of this process means delegating and empowering others to lead. There is no “ivory tower” type behaviour. They are rational optimists A systems wide understanding is necessary to achieve excellence. These leaders have a balanced view of their strengths and weaknesses, and of building the best and repairing the worst. They are realists, but they never give up on themselves. They stress and de-stress The leaders all seem to understand the unique benefits of stress and de-stress. They recognise that human capabilities have to be subject to a degree of stress in order to grow. Testing the limits is important. In turn, they recognise the recuperative benefits of de- stressing, and therefore don’t feel guilty as they enjoy their favourite activity or hobby. Dr Norman Chorn is a strategy and organisation development practitioner with over 20 years experience in Australia, UK. New Zealand and South Africa. His work is focused on strategies for growth and corporate resilience. 2