Excelling but Not Competing

I admire people who excel in what they do. Whether it’s about sport, entertainment or work – people who excel are recognized and is fun to be with. I think it’s innate to us Filipinos to be part of a group where successful people dwell. It might be thought of as social climbing but honestly, we just want to have what they have and even sometimes become better than they are.

But how do we really excel in our work and yet not compete with others (and compare ourselves with how others work?)?

Working in a competitive company might let you think that in order to move up in the ladder of success, one must continually fight for it. Some people I know of has the habit of putting the blame to others and making sure that the “glory” be on his head. Other people also are “power hungry” that they belittle other people (even OJT’s!) because they want to feel successful.

To be blunt about it, success is nothing compared to being excellent. Success can always be taken away from you but excellence (in all that we do) can be a blessing of a lifetime. Excellence is much more precious than success, it develops in us the character to do better and improve while success can only do much as to measure your doings to other people’s accomplishments.

Given that excellence is better than success, the real deal really is not fighting to compete to become successful but fighting with self to become excellent.

What do I mean by that?

My own definition of excellence is that doing things above and beyond what I call mediocre results because you want to improve the way you do things. It’s the idea that we thrive hard to do good in our job not because we want to brag about it but we want to be recognized by the company and the people we work with even when not saying a word about it.

A few years ago when I was still starting with my work in the corporate world, my performance was not bad nor was it really good. My boss told me one time that there were lapses in how I did things and challenged me to become better since it will be part of my evaluation for regularization.

At first, I complained and tried to measure myself by saying that’s the only thing I can do and pushing me won’t do any better. Well, I was still young and new at corporate work so I guess you have to forgive me about my foolishness.

After much thought and wanting to be part of the company, I tried to do stuff beyond my capacity and call of duty. I followed the advices of my boss and wrote down the areas for improvement on a piece of paper and tucked it in my wall for remembrance. I made sure that when placed on the same situation again, I’ll do better.

And I did. The next evaluation that I got was from Developing to a successful plus (I jumped over the successful level)! All I did that time was do more than what was expected. I became proactive and diligent, making sure everything is aligned and I’m hitting my targets.

What did I do to excel? Here are a few things that I still do right now to ensure that I’m on the right track –

  1. I write down my tasks and other important things to be done on a journal/notebook – it’s always present on my work desk and every meeting. It’s filled with scribbles and notes that only I can read.
  2. I place quotes on my cubicle’s wall about excellence and work – this way, I have a vision of what I want to do and become. It also pushes me not to become complacent about my usual tasks.
  3. I have calendar reminders activated for schedules of reports, meetings and important tasks that requires much attention than the others.
  4. I pray when stress heats up and try to stay cool by listening to relaxing music while doing work. It’s the best stress reliever!
  5. I make sure that work and fun is balanced. Taking time to do things you love (not related to work!) can rejuvenate you once you get back to work.
  6. I practiced saying “I’ll see what I can do” instead of the “No,it’s not possible” and do something about it.

You might notice that the things I’ve mentioned above doesn’t do with anything that requires you from making sure that your ahead with someone else. That’s because I don’t want to compete with someone else for a position. Although the craving to have more is there at many times of the day, I always ensure myself that if I want to become the boss, I have to be master of my own pride and become humble, continuing to do work and ad hoc tasks even when no one is watching.

Excellence is not about competing or comparing yourself to others but measuring yourself and your capacity to improve and become better. You read it right, it’s a fight against yourself and your own “devils” and not about the other person on the next cubicle or your boss. It’s a battle of the heart and the mind.

Trying to measure up to our boss’ expectations is good but we must also understand that there needs to be a time of transition especially when we are new at our work. We might feel burned-out immediately should we want to do so much in so little time. Take time to breathe,examine and research.

One good example is how I am doing right now with my new company and how I tried to measure up myself only to find out that I’m still 2 months old in the company and have been doing things so much than what the others were able to accomplish before me for a year.

There needs to be balance especially when you’re transferring to a new company or else, you’ll end up the same pit and reason why you resigned from the previous company.

Before I forget, excellence doesn’t mean being perfect. Perfection can be a good tool but making mistakes and learning from it is a good experience. It drives us to be better and get things done – which is the very core of excellence!

Thank you for reading!


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