Tuning Into Excellence
Many people believe that excellence is a destination. I would like to suggest that excellence is a place that constantly resides within each and every one of us. The root of the word excellence is to ‘rise up’ or ‘to elevate’. When musicians tune, they essentially are ensuring their frequencies are in harmony so the musical notes feel good, and sound good. When we ‘tune into excellence’ we become more of who we are, and that is precisely what the world needs.
Think of two people who exemplify excellence. Are their attributes identical? The expansion of excellence is absolutely individual. If we attempt to emulate another person’s excellence, we may find it is like trying to get it right. The expansion of excellence is often confused with the quest for perfection. Perfection is a head-space about ‘getting it right’; excellence is the essence of who we are. Excellence is a way of being and it can vary from day to day. The key to excellence is doing the best we can in the moment, and know that it has a distinct organic feeling.
When I mention the word excellence, it is amazing how much of a trigger this word can be for people. Some tighten their laces eagerly wanting to get moving, while others come to a complete standstill consumed by fear of judgement. The word conjures up the feeling of being better than and that they will not measure up.
Tuning into excellence is a deliberate choice, and our capacity to ‘tune-in’ can vary based on the day and the circumstances. Just like a radio receiver, sometimes we have to spend time adjusting the dial for the optimal reception, and other days we simply turn the radio on. In our day to day existence, we tend to have many distractions that impact our performance. Mobilizing and focusing our passion to achieve excellence allows us to push aside those things that are not congruent with our own personal excellence. We do nothing good without passion; nothing excellent by passion alone. Passion is what gets us started on any endeavour, but passion alone will not bring the project to fruition. It takes courage to move into the excitement of excellence. Can you do it?
Of course you can!
Life is filled with so many details demanding our attention; we pretend that so many things are not a priority for us and yet when we get to the start line, or performance day, suddenly we care. In order to experience our desire for excellence, we must be in the current moment. The current moment often is the last place we want to spend time. We are constantly consumed by the future (what needs to be done), or the past (what should have been done), but it is in the current moment where we access our true power. You know how potent the present moment can be. Spend five minutes with a toddler who is interested in playing ‘right now’ and yet you need to return a phone call, or your dog that desperately smothers you with kisses as you return home and you are totally consumed by what needs to get done. The present moment is so much simpler and less time consuming if we give ourselves permission to be there.
I recall when I was 22 years old working as a physiotherapist aid at Riverview Hospital (what was the BC Provincial Asylum for the Insane) how easy it was to be distracted. The job took a lot out of me, and I found it was easy for me to be ‘off-topic’. The physiotherapist in charge constantly reminded all of us that although our patient population was over 65, dealing with mental health challenges and physical ailments, we needed to stay tuned-in. As I was steadying the chair for a frail 88 year old woman to stand up, I drifted; she grabbed a handful of my hair with great determination. The physiotherapist in charge was quickly at my side in aid, smiling as she reiterated the words, “you must continually have your wits about you when you do this job!” It was a great lesson early in my career about how critical it is to be in the present moment.
The next time you enter an exam room to do an ultrasound scan, make a deliberate choice to show up ‘fully and completely’ and allow yourself and the patient to experience the brilliance of your excellence. As you walk into the exam room, you may find yourself still preoccupied with the results of the last exam, or the number of exams that need to be completed before the end of the day. Deliberately take a moment to collect yourself. You will see that you have a patient awaiting an ultrasound scan from you, who believes in you, needs you to be at your best, and s/he is likely feeling vulnerable. Give yourself credit that you have the skills, training, desire and capacity and you are precisely the ‘one to make the difference’ for this patient. You are the beginning of his/her healing journey.
At RSNA 2010 (Radiological Society of North America) in Chicago, former president Clinton spoke on “In Pursuit of Excellence in Personalized Medicine”. He spoke of the framework of how health care is offered and about opening your mind to what is needed by the front line of health care practitioners. His premise was about doing a better job with what you know, rather than simply going through the motions.
Are you doing a better job with what you know today? Go back to that moment that you chose to pursue ultrasound. What was the inspiration? Does this inspiration still dance in your day or is it a thing of the past?
When I hear this quote by Will Rogers, it captures my sense of excellence, “Know what you are doing. Love what you are doing. And believe in what you are doing.”
We all have an impact. By merely walking into a room, the room is changed because of our arrival. We waltz through our days, our jobs, our relationships, vaguely arriving because we have ‘so many other things on our mind’. You know what I mean, before someone has opened his mouth, you already have a gut feel about him. Is it the way she is dressed? Or is it his understated arrival into the room? Without realizing it, we have an impact.
The key for each of us to grasp is:
I find people tend to dance in the gap of underestimating their own impact. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is what was your intended impact and are you having the impact you intend?
In order to live in your excellence you must be fully connected to your wisdom. Your wisdom becomes fully functional when your ‘Intellect is turned on’, your ‘Intuition is tuned in’ and your ‘Inspiration is ignited’.
Living in partnership with excellence is a skill, and skill acquisition takes time. When I worked at Xerox in the 80’s, we figured it took 2 years to acquire and master any new skills. The development of a skill was referred to as an evolvement of your understanding of the skill and then your ability to execute it deliberately.
Abraham Maslow’s the four stages of competence, or the “conscious competence” learning model, relates to the psychological states involved in the process of progressing from incompetence to competence in a skill.
Where you are in relation
0 to 6 months
No idea that I have no idea
6 to 12 months
I understand that I have no idea
12 to 18 months
I understand what to do and how to do it on purpose
18 to 24 months
I understand what to do and now do it ‘as second nature’
For your excellence to strengthen, it is critical that you support yourself by creating an environment to thrive. The resonance of your excellence needs a place to be supported. It is like when we listen to a tuning fork … when we tap it and let it resonate in the air, the pitch is good but has little impact, when we give it a solid structure to operate from (place it on a table), the sound of the tuning fork, with no extra effort, beautifully fills the room. Be sure to understand how you need to set up your life to support you to be all that you can be.
You are in charge. Moving from competence to confidence depends on you and your willingness to cultivate your relationship to your excellence. My wish for you: Take a moment to deliberately consider what it is that inspires you and find a way to elevate by “tuning into your excellence … make a choice to live in partnership with your excellence because you deserve it.