Part of the "Living Organisation" s
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
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.
What do exceptional people do?
Dr Norman Chorn | email@example.com | www.normanchorn.com | www.centstrat.com
In Pursuit of Personal
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.