When we think of the word "excellence", perhaps the definition that comes to mind is simply being the best we can be. How true that is! I find that many people I meet would readily agree that they strive for excellence; however, I say that the exact opposite is probably a lot closer to the truth! Why? Most have not clearly defined what it means to themselves to strive for excellence.

If we intend to strive for excellence, each of us must have our own definition of excellence. Our definition of excellence must be specifically defined for all areas of life. Spiritual, financial, emotional, relational, and the like.

Let me share with you an example of someone who strives for excellence when it comes to helping a customer. This example is very simple, but says a lot. My wife and I had the opportunity to visit China and other Oriental countries. They know a thing or two about customer service! I walked into a store to ask where in the store I could find film. Let's stop here. How would you answer that question for me if you were a person who strives for excellence when it comes to helping customers, or in this case, helping me? In this case, the merchant refused to simply point it out to me, but actually went beyond the call of duty and walked me personally to the other end of the store to show me where the film was. Most people would have just pointed and said "isle three or four over there". It's a simple example, but one that defines what it means to go beyond the call of duty in customer service. It is striving for excellence!

Barbara Streisand was asked by Mike Wallace in a 60 Minutes interview why she had the reputation of being hard to work with. Her response was "I have a very high level of excellence. If you work with me and have that same high level, then we will get along just fine; if you don't, we won't!"

People who strive for excellence pay attention to detail. Things have to be just right. Those who don't strive for excellence, but work for someone who does, interpret doing things just right as being too picky. That's a dead give away that person really doesn't strive for excellence!

Here are a few ways, as an entrepreneur, you can define striving for excellence. Be well prepared to make a sales presentation. Take the time to keep statistics of who does and doesn't purchase your merchandise/services. How many calls did it take to make a sale? Handle customer complaints immediately, if not sooner! When you do get a customer complaint, don't take it personally or think they are opinionated. Simply work to solve the problem and make them happy if at all possible. Complaints, if acted on properly, will make you and your business better! Keep an organized schedule. Always maintain a professional appearance. The list goes on and on.

I strongly recommend that you take some time right now to write on a piece of paper what it means for you to strive for excellence! Write specific examples of how you do or would demonstrate striving for excellence. Remember: Be specific. If you're not personally striving for excellence now, make some changes! At some point, you may be working for someone who strives for excellence, or you may have to set the example if you have people working for you!

All the Best,

Gary Coxe