Once I received a beautiful birthday gift from my team. It was a small Ganesha idol. Like most of them, this one too was also beautifully crafted.
I recall what was told to me as I took the gift, “Like Ganesha, may you master as many arts as you can.”
I was perplexed. I inquired what that meant. Lord Ganesha was a master of sixty four arts, I was informed and hence the inspiration.
With the Lord of auspicious and good beginnings due to grace us this week, my mind wanders to that conversation and the meaning it has in our lives.
You are acknowledged as a master when you achieve excellence. You do well what you do; you perform well consistently; you raise the bar; and excellence pours out of you as naturally as perspiration after a workout, without sweating. You don’t have to extract excellence out of yourself, it oozes from you as if that’s all that it can draw from you.
So, is excellence a natural by-product or is it a dish prepared with an excellent recipe from outstanding ingredients?
A difficult question to answer, and even more unappetizing to digest.
If excellence is a by-product then what is it that you are working to produce? If it is just a recipe of ingredients and procedures, then why can’t everyone program excellence into their performances?
There is truth in both.
Yes it is true that those who get it as a by-product are not chasing excellence as a product or a destination. For them excellence is a manner. It is a way. It is a discipline. They want to do things well and in that quest, excellence becomes a constant companion. They don’t take excellence along, it chooses to ride in the company of such people.
Yes, excellence can be a dish. Have you seen those who consistently dish out good performances? Check their menu.
They have nothing else on their cards except excellence. They choose well in what they pursue; who they partner with; and they plan well. They believe good roadmaps are essential to beautiful destinations. They study in depth what it takes to dish out a great performance, and then put it in to make it one.
At each stage, from the aroma they can judge whether the dish is roasting as per their book. The book that is a compilation of carefully collected choice of ingredients and how they have to be cooked together. Every opportunity to them is a mouth-watering prospect to present a great dish on the table. For them excellence is what goes in and what comes out is no surprise.
So, is there something different about these two routes? One aims to perform well, and the other to deliver a good performance.
The first method aims at internal development. You develop yourself to a point that excellence, and nothing else flows out effortlessly from you. You build a pipeline of excellence. You don’t gather, it flows.
The second is about outlook. It is the way they look at things. You see through the lenses of excellence. You see clearly what you want; what it takes; and you put that in. You don’t waver from the path, and in doing this consistently it becomes second nature to you. It becomes your standard.
So is there anything common? Yes. It is the approach. You set out to be excellent, but you don’t seek it, you master it.
You imbibe it inside you. You don’t go to shop for it each time. You get it free with the way you go about. Your dedication, perseverance and untiring effort ensure that the excellence is a by-product of your every endeavour. When you go about doing anything, your planning, attention to detail, and adhering to your constantly updated recipe book ensures that the dish is always a lip-smacking one. There is a method to the madness.
So, what would you like? To be excellent, or to put excellence in your performances.
Whichever way you take to excellence, you can’t get to it, till you go through it.