Excellence is exhausting. It takes a lot of hard work. More importantly, it takes a complete disregard for most people’s feelings most of the time. But if you ever want true excellence, you have to hold people to a higher standard than they have ever been held to before. Because of this, you will soon find yourself at the brunt of a lot of hatred, annoyance, and being labeled as an ass. This is because by nature people hate being held accountable consistently to a new standard that they have never challenged themselves to reach before. Most people just want to be comfortable which typically resides somewhere in between mediocre and good but never great. Great is rare, and most people aspire to be it but are not willing to make the sacrifices necessary to achieve it. As a leader, you have to be comfortable with people labeling you as a perfectionist or anal but that is the definition of your job. You are responsible for setting the standard and holding people accountable to that standard each and every day. The fastest way to guarantee a mediocre life is to allow any mediocre moments to ever slip in at all. By holding your team, (and yourself), to a higher level of excellence in everything that they do, you will over time make that person better. While that person may resent it at the time, (and even possibly leave the team), they will become a better person because of it.
The discouraging news for you is that this is a thankless job. No one ever comes up and says “hey boss, thanks for holding everyone to such a high standard. I am proud to work at a company that delivers excellence in everything we do”. Nope. That will never happen. SOMETIMES when the team member leaves, they’ll leave a Thank You card with a mention of how much you changed their life or even more rare you will get one a year later echoing the same thing but that is all you get. You are probably thinking “well, this is horrible and I don’t know if I am going to keep reading this anymore” and I get it. BUT…if you are holding people to excellence in hopes of garnering praise, you are doing it for the wrong reasons and you will always be disappointed. If you cannot let the desire to be liked or thanked go then you simply cannot be a leader.
If you want to be a great leader, manager, business owner, or even person, you have to demand excellence every moment of every day. It has to be your mantra. You have to EXUDE excellence. You have to hold yourself to the highest level of standards so that you are able to set the precedent for your team and this means no MOMENTS off, you cannot have any moments where you are just not “feeling up to it”. You cannot ever find yourself “lacking motivation” or needing someone to pick up the slack because you are the standard. If you are someone that claims to want excellence but do not walk the walk, the hard truth is that you are better off shutting it down and finding yourself a job.
Once you find yourself in a place where you are holding yourself to excellence, each and every day, THEN and ONLY then are you able to start holding your team to a higher standard as well. The trade-off of this is you have to be okay with being labeled as a hard-ass or unemotional. If this bothers you right now, don’t worry..you can learn this. Oxi Fresh Franchise Founder and CEO Jonathan Barnett once told me that you have to always put the brand first. This means that you have to put all feelings, prejudices, and emotions aside and always think about what makes the brand better. You might be reading this and thinking “I don’t own a business” and first I would ask you why you are investing time in a blog that is geared towards business owners and managers, then the second I would also say that you yourself are a brand. Who you are, your reputation, and how people (that you care about) perceive you is a brand. By holding yourself and your people to a higher level of standards, you will find your reputation growing by leaps and bounds and you soon will see huge benefits.
Once you are holding yourself and your team to your newfound standards, you will find yourself being hated, resented, and talked negatively about all the time and the good news is, it never gets better until they leave. But, there is solace in the fact that when people leave you, they leave as a better person, a harder worker, and if given the opportunity to apply their newfound work ethic that you cultivated, they will excel rapidly and that will impact their lives and the lives of their families. Demanding excellence is a rough, thankless job, and the majority of the time the benefits of your hard work are never seen by you but you have sent countless people who were once drifters, down the path of success that they would have never been able to find on their own.
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