6 Quotes About Excellence

· August 7, 2018

There aren’t many concepts as hard to understand and assimilate as the concept of excellence. It’s a wonderful word, and it “sells” better than almost anything else. But what does it really mean? What place does it have in our lives? Is it the same thing to aspire to excellence as it is to perfection? Does it mean being the best or just doing as best you can every day?

Truthfully, it’s more than just a question of being good at things. It goes way, way beyond that. It also has a moral aspect that involves trying to do your best under the circumstances you’re in, and always trying to find the best solution. For a lot of people, it’s about measurable achievements, possessions, and skills. But it’s not really about that at all, it’s more spiritual. It’s about satisfaction and personal growth. 

Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.

-Aristotle-

Excellence isn’t an action, it’s a habit

Excellence isn’t an established, agreed-upon degree of quality or perfection. It’s a paradigm in constant change, and it comes from what we do every day. It’s not about being perfect at something, although that’s an admirable goal. It’s more about always doing things as well as you possibly can.

Pushing yourself to excel at what you do takes a lot of work and passion. This drive and commitment to do things well and make an effort can help you achieve amazing results.

Woman on run at sunset with her hands in the air.

Excellence is something you have to work at every day

The search for excellence never ends, never gives you breaks, and never makes exceptions. Excellence is something you have to work at every day because it comes from your own values. We’re talking about the values that put you to the test every day, the ones you see coming up in everything you do and everything that happens to you. If something is important to you, the best thing you can do is work at it every day. No excuses!

“There’s no joy that lasts with a job like that, or another, or really any kind of job. You’ll always have to go somewhere else, at some point. You’ll have to get dressed again and get on your way. (…) You have to walk up and knock on excellence’s door because it’s a seven day a week job.


-[Translation] Arnaldo Calveyra-

Getting pleasure out of doing things well

Betting on excellence in what you do is one of the best ways to take pleasure out of it. Aligning your attitude at work with this goal will go far beyond just getting you good results. It’s also an enriching practice for you to engage in, both personally and professionally.

When you know you do something well, it can multiply the delight that thing brings you. The more you do it, the better the results will be, and the more you’ll reinforce the habit.

The secret of joy in work is contained in one word – excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it.

-Pearl S. Buck-

Excellence is a constant search

We’re talking about a process that almost never ends while there’s still a chance to do something about it. Plus, the more time you spend searching for excellence, the younger, more hopeful, and active your spirit will be. It comes from the idea that there’s always room for improvement, no matter what part of life it is you’re talking about, or whether it’s professional or personal.

Having a high personal standard is basically the outcome of a restless desire to perform better, to optimize the results you get out of the resources you have. It’s an external expression of internal integrity, passion, and a strong desire to make a difference.

No matter what it is you do, you always have the choice to adopt this attitude. It’s also true that your skills and abilities or your resources and information can be limiting factors. But most of the time you still have plenty of room to maneuver. This part right here is where passion and commitment truly come into play.

As for me, I am in pursuit of excellence. I have no time to get old.

-Will Eisner-

Recognition goes hand and hand with excellence

Many people fight to gain recognition, but they don’t always follow the right path for it. Gaining recognition through excellence is truthfully the best, most noble way to do it. Yet, for the people who do gain it in this way, recognition is usually less important than a good result.

On the other side of things, if you’re not searching for excellence, you probably won’t find it. Searching for excellence also involves excelling in your actions and always trying your best. Even if it seems like you’re far from excelling, interest and effort will always be the most valuable things you can put into a project. Having a desire and acting on it is the only way you’ll be able to get one step closer to excellence.

If you truly expect to realize your dreams, abandon the need for blanket approval. If conforming to everyone’s expectations is the number one goal, you have sacrificed your uniqueness, and therefore your excellence.

-Hope Solo-

Woman running in search of excellence.

Take advantage of every little chance you get to excel

We don’t get a chance to do that many things, and every one should be really excellent. Because this is our life.

-Steve Jobs-

Adopting this attitude means putting faith in yourself and being guided by your own ability to see/identify an opportunity to improve. It means moving forward and finding the best way to improve each and every detail. It’s action, not observation or reflection, although it can start with both of those things.

That being said, adopting this attitude and keeping it up isn’t easy. It can be extremely frustrating and painful because the early results you get are often miles away from what you’d hoped for. So in the end, excellence is an exercise in intelligence and patience. It’s one that rewards people who have the resilience to take the step and go beyond their limitations.