Excellence Is Not A Destination
This afternoon I have an opportunity to speak to a group of bank executives during an offsite leadership gathering they are participating in. A room full of senior leaders who have collectively grown a small community bank into half a billion dollar a year organization that is now serving six counties in Oklahoma. To say I am a bit nervous would be an understatement. But at the very same time, I am excited about the opportunity to represent and hopefully bring some Biblical leadership and wisdom.
The offsite topic I am joining is Excellence in People. As I processed this topic and prayed about what I wanted to bring it became abundantly clear my content was going to revolve around the idea that “Excellence is a journey, not a destination.” I believe it’s essential for us all to remember and know we do not arrive at excellence, nor do we ever show up at a single event that determines excellence. Excellence is, and requires, continual determination and grit because it is a process. I plan on walking through some personal experiences and challenges of developing a culture of excellence and using the Digerati Axioms as a guide.
Following the personal experience and Axiom discussion, we will circle back to the core point, using Dr. Tony Evans quote: “ Excellence is not a destination, it is a continual process of transformation into who God wants us to be.” You see, leading to a culture of excellence is a continual process of transformation - and it STARTS WITH US as leaders. I believe there are three things leaders MUST DO.
1) Model It.
- Your team and staff will only go as far as you go...what does your TRANSFORMATION look like?
- Transformation is messy and hard.
- Don’t forget; your team will see and respond to your actions before they listen to your words.
2) Share It.
- To shape the culture, and for this transformation to spread, you have to share it.
- Talk about your growth. Share the struggles and victories.
- Remember, vulnerability BUILDS trust.
3) Celebrate It.
- When we see it, call it out. Praise it. Celebrate it. Short feedback loops = Positive reinforcement.
- Honestly, this is the hardest for me. As an ENTJ, this is a weakness - but we cannot let our personalities define us; they inform us. Work hard to celebrate, to see the good and praise it with positive feedback loops.
We must model it, share it and celebrate it; that is how we will transform into having a culture of excellence. But let’s be honest, navigating people is challenging. People have personalities, egos, drama, feelings and a whole lot more. I haven't found an Excel formula or equation that works with humans, and I have also noticed that the more blessing, the more scale, the more growth we have in our organizations, the messier it becomes. The wisdom of the Proverbs speaks powerfully to this:
You are only here today sharpening and growing because you have a LARGE HARVEST or desire one! Growth and expansion require many strong oxen...or “people.” And people are messy. You see, we can look at this from the other vantage point - if you want smooth and simple, then opt for no growth, no impact, no expansion, no community reach. Then it will be clean and easy.
Your goals, dreams, and vision will not be obtained without a mess along the way. Messes you create, or your team creates...it’s part of the blessing of a large harvest.
You don’t have to be perfect or even great, to be excellent. You just have to remember: Excellence is a journey, not a destination.