Achieving Excellence, a session by Dr. Nicholas Correa
A session By
Dr. Nicholas Correa
If you want to be really good at something, it’s
going to involve relentlessly pushing past your
comfort zone, as well as
frustration, struggle, setbacks and failures.
That’s true as long as you want to continue to
improve, or even maintain a high level of
The reward is that being really good at
something you’ve earned through your own hard
work can be immensely satisfying.
―If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise‖
Make a conscious decision to become a person of excellence.
We’re all human – born with human frailties and faults. So in
order for us to truly live lives of excellence, we first have to
realize we will have to work at learning how to be excellent.
So first you have to ask yourself, ―Am I willing to put in the time
and effort it will take to learn how to be excellent? Am I up for
all the self-introspection?‖ Be honest with yourself – can you be
someone who will serve as an example and a role model to those
around you? If so, then set your path and work toward learning
how to be excellent with everything that is in you.
Pursue what you love.
Passion is an incredible motivator.
It fuels focus, resilience, and perseverance.
Be a person of integrity.
This quality is foundational to being a person of excellence. You
can’t learn how to be excellent without first having integrity.
So what does integrity mean? Well, for starters…people of
integrity are honest. They don’t manipulate the truth or cut corners
to make a buck. They do the right thing regardless of the personal
People of integrity are also people of principle – they do what say
they will do when they say they will do it. Their word is their
They are people who commit to something and make sure it gets
done. On time and in budget. To the best of their ability.
Have faith in yourself.
Belief in your ability to achieve your goals and dreams is essential.
If we don’t have faith in ourselves and our abilities, how can we
inspire those around us?
Often our faith is clouded by visions of past mistakes or failures, or
distorted by how we think others see us. You have to realize that
the past is in the past, and doesn’t have to be repeated. You want to
know what the worst thing about making a mistake is? Not learning
from it. Mistakes, failures, distorted views of ourselves – we all
have them. But truly excellent people will learn to cultivate
confidence and courage and move beyond the self-doubts.
One of my favorite books of the last few years is Blink by Malcolm
Gladwell. It’s about the powerful transforming quality of trusting
your gut instincts. I highly recommend it if you would like to
increase faith in yourself.
Have faith in others.
It’s easy to distrust other people. All you have to do is take a look
at the headlines. There’s a whole lot of bad in the world.
But people who know how to be excellent have to learn to
transcend that way of thinking. Because when you learn to expect
the best from other people, a funny thing happens. You start
getting their best.
Now, I’m not saying you won’t be disappointed. You will be. But
living in a constant state of expectation and positive thinking is
much, much better than living in negativity. Expect the best and
you are much more likely to receive it.
Lift other people up.
In the ―every man for himself‖ society that we live in, it’s a
rare person who consciously encourages and empowers
other people to achieve their best. But that’s all part and
parcel of being excellent.
Start by showing genuine interest in the things that are
important to them. Ask questions; find out who they are;
remember important occasions like their birthdays and
anniversaries, and the names of their kids.
Another way to lift people up is to give credit where credit is
due. I had a colleague once who would take credit for all my
ideas. Although it hacked me off, I figured he must really be
desperate for acknowledgment.
Once I started lifting him up in meetings, he stopped
taking credit for my ideas and started generating ideas of
His confidence in his abilities soared! Now, I could have
reacted by embarrassing him in front of others, or
talking about what he was doing with my other
colleagues, but by acknowledging him, I not only
created a friend for life, but helped create a great
employee for the company.
Likewise, always give pats on the back. Encouragement
is so incredibly important to us humans. We all need to
be told when we do a good job.
Do everything to the best of your ability.
Regardless of what you are doing, always put your full effort
behind it. Don’t do anything halfway.
There are some people who will only do enough to ―get by,‖
content with good enough. But people who know how to be
excellent give everything they take on their 100 percent best
Because they expect it from themselves. They know that is the
only true path to success.
Do the hardest work first.
We all move instinctively toward pleasure and away
Most great performers, Ericsson and others have
found, delay gratification and take on the difficult
work of practice in the mornings, before they do
That’s when most of us have the most energy and
the fewest distractions.
Practice intensely, without interruption for short
periods of no longer than 90 minutes and then
take a break.
Ninety minutes appears to be the maximum
amount of time that we can bring the highest
level of focus to any given activity.
The evidence is equally strong that great
performers practice no more than 4 ½ hours a
Seek expert feedback, in intermittent doses.
The simpler and more precise the feedback, the
more equipped you are to make adjustments.
Too much feedback, too continuously can create
cognitive overload, increase anxiety, and interfere
Take regular renewal breaks.
Relaxing after intense effort not only provides an
opportunity to rejuvenate, but also to metabolize
and embed learning.
It’s also during rest that the right hemisphere
becomes more dominant, which can lead to
Will and discipline are wildly overrated. As the
researcher Roy Baumeister has found, none of us
have very much of it.
The best way to insure you’ll take on difficult tasks
is to build rituals — specific, inviolable times at
which you do them, so that over time you do them
without having to squander energy thinking about
we have remarkable capacity to influence our own
outcomes. But that’s also daunting.
One of Ericsson’s central findings is that practice is
not only the most important ingredient in achieving
excellence, but also the most difficult and the least
―If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn out tools;‖