Successful Excellence

This is a guest post by my friend Zeenat Merchant-Syal, @zeenatsyal.

Aren’t we all craving for success?

In whatever endeavor we take up success is what we are after. Be it a project or a job. Be it as small a task as completing a good book. We always want to be successful at the task in hand and in the broader perspective in life. Success in life.

But, What does Success really mean?

Is it the mere completion of a task at hand or the positive completion of the task at hand?
Whatever your definition of success is, whether its the smaller successes like learning a new language or quitting alcohol OR the bigger successes like landing a major project or finding the love of your life..what happens when you have attained that Success?? What happens when there are no more goals left, when you are where you want to be?
If you are a hardworking person success WILL come to you. There is no doubt about that. But on the road to attaining that success have you been truly losing out on whats most important-Excellence.

Now you may wonder What does excellence have anything at all to do with Success?

When you you’re working hard to attain these successes you often learn new things along the way. Like a new language, like learning to be more patient, be more persistent, be more focused. You have learned a wealth of information while attaining these successes. But, once these successes have been reached to full completion you tend to forget about all you learned on the way and jump onto the next success you’ve been eying! Those lessons you learned are adding to Your Excellence.

What is success without excellence? Its like a person having all the riches in the world, but not knowing how to use it. Its like having a beautiful chocolate cake right in front of you and then not knowing what to do of it…Eat it gorge it or savor it or just let it be!

Excellence comes with much the same things as what success comes with-persistence, hard work, focus…

But Successful Excellence comes with Passion. A passion to learn and to retain that knowledge. That adds to your successful excellence. You will have wealth of knowledge and know exactly how to use it and when to use it. But, only if you focus on YOUR EXCELLENCE rather than focus on just success.

Successes will come and go in time, but excellence will remain with you always. Even when you’re old and don’t have anymore successes to run after, this very Excellence will show you the way to live well.

Rather than focusing on just success why not focus on successful excellence? You have nothing to lose. In fact everything to gain.

Think of it this way- With success you don’t necessarily get excellence. But, with Excellence Success is INEVITABLE! These are changing times. Yet in the middle of all the changes there is one thing that constantly determines success. Some call it leadership. But to my mind, it is the single-minded pursuit of successful excellence.

Successful Excellence endures and sustains. It goes beyond motivation into the realms of inspiration. Successful Excellence can be as strong a uniting force as solid vision.
Successful Excellence does not happen in a vacuum. It needs a collective obsession as I have experienced the benefits of excellence in my own life. Successful Excellence is a great starting point for any new venture or new beginning but also an unending journey.

What is Successful excellence?

It is about going a little beyond what we expect from ourselves.
The main driver of excellence is internal. I have found that excellence is not so much a battle you fight with others, but a battle you fight with yourself, by constantly raising the bar and stretching yourself. This is the best and the most satisfying and challenging part about successful excellence.

How does one create successful excellence in life?

First, we create an obsession with excellence. We must dream of it not only because it delivers better results but because we truly believe in it and find it intrinsically satisfying to us.
We must think of excellence not only with our mind but also with our heart and soul.

Second, we need to build a collective self-confidence. People who pursue successful excellence are self-confident. This is because successful excellence requires tremendous faith in one’s ability to do more and in a better way. Unless, we believe we can do better, we cannot!

Third, we must understand the difference between perfection for its own sake and successful excellence. Time is of essence. This may seem like a paradox: should we aim for excellence or should we aim for speed?
Excellence is about doing the best we can and speed lies in doing it quickly. These two concepts are not opposed to each other; in fact, speed and timeliness are important elements of successful excellence.A balance is required.

Fourth, we must realize that we cannot be the best in everything we do. We must define what we are or would like to be best at and what someone else can do better.
Successful Excellence is NOT about being the best. It is about being the best in what we are good at. We have to define what our own core competencies are and what we can let others do. Share the responsibility… Headaches shared are headaches divided.

Fifth, invest in successful excellence for the future. Future always seems to be at a distance. But it comes upon you so suddenly that it catches you by surprise, if not shock. What constitutes excellence in the future will be significantly different from what it is today. In these days of severe pressures, there is big temptation to sacrifice the future to look good in the present.

Finally, successful excellence requires belief and humility. This is especially needed when we feel we have reached the peak of excellence and there is nothing further we can do. We need an open mind to look at things in a different way and allow new ideas to come in.

Otherwise, there is a real danger of becoming complacent or even downright arrogant. I would like to end this post with a story that illustrates this very well.

Story-A brilliant young professor went to meet a famous Zen master to have a discussion with him on Zen. He found himself in front of a modest house. He rang the doorbell and waited. A while later, he heard shuffling footsteps and the door was opened by the Zen master.

He invited the professor to sit with him on the dining table. The professor was a little disappointed with the shabby appearance of the Zen master. He started quizzing him immediately on comparative philosophies and the Zen master gave some brief answers.

When the professor began to debate with him on those answers, the Zen master stopped speaking and kept smiling at him. Finally, the professor got angry. He said, “I have come from a long distance just to understand the relevance of Zenism. But apparently you have nothing to say. I have not learnt anything from you at all.”

At this point, the Zen master asked the professor to have some tea. When the professor held the cup, the Zen master started pouring tea into it. After some time, the tea started spilling and the professor shouted, “Stop! The cup can contain no more.”

The Zen Master stopped and then, once again smiling, he said, “A mind, full of itself can receive nothing. How can I speak to you of Zenism until you empty your mind to learn.” The professor understood and apologized to the Zen master. He parted from him, the Zen master — a wiser man.

Author Bio: Zeenat Merchant Syal is a Practicing Counseling Psychologist/Spiritual Counselor/Motivational Speaker/Naturopath with degrees in Motivational and Counseling Psychology. She also holds degrees in various fields of Holistic and Naturopathic Medicine. She blogs at “Positive Provocations” Be sure to subscribe to her posts by RSS.

29 thoughts on “Successful Excellence”

  1. Intuition provides help downloading the insight typically not accessible to our senses.
    Call it a still voice, a hunch or a gut feeling – whenever it starts occurring you will know it’s no accident.!
    Dowsing is a method anyone can use to gain access to the intuition using dowsing pendulum or alternatively divining rod.
    I have been doing it for a number of years and In my opinion everyone can learn it.

  2. We have to learn how to express the most excellent of our inner selves all while becoming successful to keep going. Success is what we’re all striving for but without understanding our excellence and working to improve that about ourselves, is success really worth it?
    .-= Eric´s last blog ..Real Or Robot =-.

  3. I think that success is totally dependent on the indivudual. Some people who have been seriously ill think just walking to the park each day is huge success.
    .-= Richard |´s last blog ..Lessons From a Month of Meditation =-.

  4. Hi Z.
    These words really resonates and say a lot; “Excellence is about doing the best we can and speed lies in doing it quickly.”
    BE-ing the best I can is honoring what talents I have been given and it is my job to find out what those talents are and then nurture them into the best they can be. That will give me plenty of fun experiences and a great interesting life.
    Speed for me is velocity, to act upon what I observe NOW. Velocity is living in the NOW and acting in the NOW as there is no tomorow.
    Thanks Z, loved following you to this site, xox Wilma

  5. So much to think about and learn, but so inspiring and beautifully written Zeenat – I am grateful for your wisdom. As a person who is obsessed with excellence, I am now eager to add success to the equation. So often it is easy to get confused with one or the other, but putting them together is really the key (in my case as a visual artist) to creating something truly meaningful. Looking forward to learning more in the future.

    • Oh Robert,
      Your comment brought a smile to my face. Your beautiful soul just shines through 🙂 I can only imagine what an awesome visual artist you must be…I would love to see some of your work.
      Aim for excellence rather successful excellence….success WILL come…sooner or later…all you need is to belief in yourself, hardwork and patience.
      Very soon we will be reading about you in the news and hearing about your many many awards…:)
      Best Wishes,

  6. Hi Z! As always, wise words from a gracious heart. And that Zen master story is really one of my favorites!

    I’ve known many people who are driven to the exclusion of all else in their lives. I send them love, quietly and in private of course. It’s funny they do not stay in my presence for long. Do you think it’s because they must sense I am not impressed by their insufferable clawing at life?

    • Dearest Suzen,
      You know like attract like….hence if they dont stay its cause youre such a positive influence…their negative attitude towards life just pales in comparison to yours.
      I have had similar experiences…i feel its more cause they feel like they look or feel bad about themselves…when around good and positive you 🙂
      Many a times if they are smart the positivity will rub off…and then they will certainly stay…:)
      Thank you for stopping by to share your thoughts on this. I really really appreciate it 🙂

  7. I think competing, a sense of urgency and too much striving is the way of the ego and a quick way to misery. I like Barbara agree with going a little further than we thought we could.

    I do think quitting alcohol is a BIG success and many can’t be successful at all until they do so. Once they do heal an addiction everything else has no choice but to fall into place.
    .-= Tess The Bold Life´s last blog ..Born To Run =-.

  8. Funny, I came to this post from Thrilling Heroics and that was also an article about success. The most important sentence in your post for me was the first one, “Aren’t we all craving for success?”. That’s just it. In our society we are all craving for success – to be at the top, to do the most, to be the greatest. We need to look at what that’s all about. I believe the craving is the source of our discomfort. What if we just lived our lives, trying to have positive relationships, meaningful interactions and just enjoying the day instead of thinking about this maximization of our existence. I wonder what that would be like?
    .-= Carmen´s last blog ..4 Lessons Children Can Learn From Location Independence =-.

    • Hi Carmen,
      Those are some positive thoughts youre talking about. We are inherently tuned to run behind success. But what I am trying here is to steer that success drive in the direction of excellence..instead of just success for the sake of craving money power etc.
      Successful excellence is excellence of self, growth of self….and thats one success i would love to have ..:)
      Thank you fro your lovely thoughts on this

  9. Zeenat, this is a really beautiful post and I really like the zen analogy at the end. I think you are also right about mixing excellence with some humility; it is important we don’t get too caught up in our achievements and become arrogant or overly obsessed with our accomplishments. Thanks for sharing this with us!
    .-= Steven | The Emotion Machine´s last blog ..How To Combat Work Overload =-.

    • Hi Steven,
      Humility is key to personal development..without it we are just going to become successful fools..oh and obnoxious fools at that…
      Staying grounded makes us look at our success and that of others with love…rather than competition…or jealousy.
      Glad you liked this. Thanks for your awesome comment 🙂

  10. Hi Zeenat,

    You’ve nailed it in this post. The part that really struck me was where you said, “…It is about going a little beyond what we expect from ourselves.
    The main driver of excellence is internal.” That is SO true. We’re not in competition with others, but instead challenging ourselves to do better. To give it our best.

    I also agree with your words, “with Excellence Success is INEVITABLE!” That’s comforting to know.
    .-= Barbara Swafford´s last blog ..Unveiling The Results Of My Facelift =-.

    • Hi Barbara,
      Success is in our hands and in our reach if we have excellence goign with it….but the other way around…there are no guarantees 🙂
      Am glad you liked this post …thank you so much for stopping by to share your thoughts on this 🙂
      Much Love,

  11. Zeenat,

    It’s hard to know where to start. You hit so many wonderful points in this post. Personal development? An understatement! How about “Personal Rocketship to All Heavenly Points”?

    As usual, positive, amazing stuff. Brilliant!


  12. I’d especially have to agree with Zeenat’s use of the word excellence. What good is getting to our goal if we don’t obtain all the life lessons in between? Isn’t that what makes us stronger to begin with? Its like being born wealthy or earning your wealth; one person is simply used to having it, while the other person has obtained a great deal of knowledge on how to maintain and use that wealth.

    I think too often we rush to the finish line without taking the time to enjoy the scenery that’s currently around us.
    .-= Travis´s last blog ..On the Road to Becoming an Early Riser =-.

    • Hi Travis,
      Youre so bang on target with your comment! I have often wondered the same thing…why is it always about the destination..cant it just be about the awesome journey 🙂 We learn we grow and yes we become wiser on that journey…and then the destination doesn’t seem all that important…
      Thank you so much for your awesome comment here 🙂 Made my day for sure …:)

    • HI Eduard,
      External motivators are temporary isnt it…But the internal driving thats in our hands and at our will…
      People often start off with their passion intact..but in time..and the attraction to all things shiny they detour…the point of realization is the most important in these situations…
      Here’s hoping more and more people realize the important of successful excellence..rather than just external success.

  13. Interesting point about the distinguishing of success from excellence. I find success can be a variety of minor things. Some people overlook minor successes like driving to work on time and strive for the ‘major’ successes, like getting a promotion and payrise. But success is the same, the task only made larger or smaller by our perception.

    I think excellence, as said above, also requires an awareness of the steps to reaching a goal and being successful. It is the lessons learned, not the end result, that prove excellence. Excellence is where one excels. Goes beyond. Soars. Let them go and fly 🙂

    Thank you.

    • Hey Cris,
      Flying and soaring now those are some beautiful thoughts…Love how you have excellence all figured out.
      And the road is always more enriching than the destination itself. Right 🙂
      Thank you fro stopping by and sharing your wonderful thoughts here. Appreciate it 🙂

  14. I’ve read Zeenat’s blog and her words are inspiring as always. 🙂 This is particularly true when success is not just about physical pleasure. Excellence is how one can truly feel the satisfaction and accomplishments that will last a very long time. Success is all about being the best, fastest, but these will come to past, the taste will fade.

    Good job on this, Zeenat. Stumbled and RT-ed.

    Social/Blogging Tracker
    .-= Ching Ya´s last blog ..6 Points To Ponder Before Using Automatic Status Updates =-.

    • Hi Ching Ya,
      So glad you stopped by to share your lovely thoughts 🙂
      You’re so right….the taste of success can fade away in time…but the taste and aroma of successful excellence remains and lingers all through your life, making life so much more enriching.
      Thank you for your awesome support 🙂
      Much Love,


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