Aim for Excellence
The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence- “http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/c/confucius.html”
Opening Case Study:
Excellence in practice: Azim Premji
Excellence in practice: Azim Premji
Azim Premji is Chairman of Wipro Technologies, one of the largest software companies in India. He is an icon among Indian businessmen and his success story is a source of inspiration to a number of budding entrepreneurs. Born on July 24, 1945, Azim Hashim Premji was studying Electrical Engineering from Stanford University, USA when due to the sudden demise of his father, he was called upon to handle the family business. Azim Premji took over the reins of family business in 1966 at the age of 21. At the first annual general meeting of the company attended by Azeem Premji, a shareholder doubted Premji’s ability to handle business at such a young age and publicly advised him to sell his shareholding and give it to a more mature management. This spurred Azim Premji and made him all the more determined to make Wipro a success story. And the rest is history. When Azim Premji occupied the hot seat, Wipro dealt in hydrogenated cooking fats and later diversified to bakery fats, ethnic ingredient based toiletries, hair care soaps, baby toiletries, lighting products and hydraulic cylinders. Thereafter Premji made a focused shift from soaps to software. Under Azim Premji’s leadership Wipro has metamorphosed from a Rs.70 million company in hydrogenated cooking fats to a pioneer in providing integrated business, technology and process solutions on a global delivery platform. Today, Wipro Technologies is the largest independent R&D service provider in the world. Azim Premji has several achievements to his credit. In 2000, Asiaweek magazine, voted Premji among the 20 most powerful men in the world. Azim Premji was among the 50 richest people in the world from 2001 to 2003 listed by Forbes. In April 2004, Times Magazine, rated him among the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine. He is also the richest Indian for the past several years. In 2005,Government of India honored Azim Premji with Padma Bhushan.
Real entrepreneurs strive for quality and merit in all that their endeavors. Being focused on excellence means we invest time, work diligently and give a careful thought to the undertaken project or activity. Excellence allows us to be proud of our accomplishments. The quality of excellence suggests that the entrepreneur is guided by a vision or an ideal, and he does his best to make it a reality.
Excellence must be complimented by balance, because when we seek excellence in one area, we are at a risk of neglecting our other values and priorities. Excellence doesn’t mean being perfect; it means using our abilities and opportunities in an optimized manner. No matter what our mission in life, a pledge to excellence brings us closer to living it well and to attaining our dreams.
A Story on Excellence
A gentleman was once visiting a temple under construction. In the temple premises, he saw a sculptor making an idol of God. Suddenly he saw, just a few meters away, another identical idol was lying.
Surprised he asked the sculptor, “Do you need two statutes of the same idol”. “No” said the sculptor. “We need only one, but the first one got damaged at the last stage”.
The gentleman examined the idol. No apparent damage was visible. “Where is the damage?” asked the gentleman.
“There is a scratch on the nose of the idol.”
“Where are you going to keep the idol?”
The sculptor replied that it will be installed on a pillar 20 feet high. “When the idol will be 20 feet away from the eyes of the beholder, who is going to know that there is scratch on the nose?” The gentleman asked.
“The sculptor looked at the gentleman, smiled and said “God knows it and I know it”.
The desire to excel should be exclusive of the fact whether someone appreciates it or not.
Moral: Excellence is a drive from “Inside” not”Outside”.
At some point of time or other, every entrepreneur strives to achieve the best in his chosen profession. In case the entrepreneur is a manufacturer, excellence is needed in assembling the right people to design the product, applying the right management practices to manage the process and company and delivering to the market. Striving for excellence is a vital element of professionalism in any trade and involves putting quality into everything you do. Excellence separates the achievers from the also ran; by enhancing both process and operational excellence even as delivering real business value
As Harriet Braiker said “Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing”. Excellence is all the time budding and varying, valuing ourselves by measuring us against our own potential. Achieving excellence doesn’t stop at one level. It involves striving for the next as each activity offers new opportunities for excellence.
One of these great financial institutions that have attained a measure of success, Goldman Sachs, has as one of its business principles that, “We have an uncompromising determination to achieve excellence in everything we undertake. Though we may be involved in a wide variety and heavy volume of activity, we would, if it came to a choice, rather be best than biggest.”
Excellence demands assurance to endure through the ups and downs associated with becoming best and keeping up your best performance. Excellence also involves business reinvestment and positive growth along with sustained cost optimization. Financial excellence means striking the right balance between good stewardship and value creation, entrepreneurship, and focusing on the long term goal.
Tom Peters, who wrote the seminal book In Search of Excellence,once said, “The greatest danger is not that we aim too high and miss, but that we aim too low and reach it,” and that, “When you get older, you never regret your mistakes. You regret the things you didn’t try.”
To excel in any venture the entrepreneur needs to follow these guidelines:
1. To excel know what you truly want. When an entrepreneur is passionate about his enterprise, he is more likely to succeed. To excel in any endeavor, the best have a “Eureka!” moment when their vision becomes clear. Achievers realize what they really, truly want to achieve. They discover their passion. When that happens they are ready to strive for greatness. They are ready to pay the price. To excel you must know what you truly want and more than anything you must love your work. Take the example of Steve Jobs. It was his passion to innovate that gave birth to Apple and Pixar.
2. To excel strive for more. All entrepreneurs want to be legend. But what separates achievers from failures is that, the best don’t just think about their desire for greatness; they act on it. They have a high capability to put in more work. They do the things that others fail to do, and they invest more time doing it. When everyone else is sleeping, the best are practicing and thinking and improving. An insatiable desire to set the benchmark higher each time success is achieved is a pre-requisite for excellence. Success is a journey to strive for more, not a onetime destination.
3. To excel be better than your own self. Excellent entrepreneurs are always looking for ways to learn, apply, improve, and grow. They stay humble and hungry. They are lifelong learners. They never think they have “arrived”—because they know that once they think that, they’ll start sliding back to the place from which they came. Innovation is the buzzword. Competing against set standards and attempting to surpass them is the mantra to reach the zenith. Entrepreneurs who are aware of this fact always try to be better than the best.
4. To excel do ordinary things extraordinarily well. For all their greatness, the best aren’t that much better than the others. They are simply a little better at a lot of things. Everyone thinks that success is complex, but it’s really uncomplicated. In fact, the best don’t do anything unusual. They just do the ordinary things better. To excel is to see what everybody saw, but to observe what nobody did. An eye to catch everything by its detail differentiates an entrepreneur from the league. If a job is worth doing, it is worth doing well.
5. To excel zoom focus. Two people look out from the same window bars, one sees the mud on the ground, and the other sees the stars. Success is all about the basics, and the basics are little and ordinary and often boring. It’s not just about practice, but focused practice. It’s not just about taking action, but taking zoom-focused action. It’s about practicing and perfecting the fundamentals. Focus is the act of channeling all our activities into achieving a desired objective. It’s now known to most people that Thomas Edison failed 999 times before he succeeded in inventing the lamp in the 1000th trial. But what if Thomas wasn’t focused on his goals? Focus differentiates achievers from losers.
6. To excel be mentally stronger. Today’s world is more than a sprint or a marathon. You’re not just a part of the race; but there is a fear of getting hit along the way. Mental & emotional sturdiness enables entrepreneurs to respond to and overcome all of these challenges. Even in turbulent times, mental toughness gives the ability to tune out the distractions and stay calm, focused, and energized. Mental toughness is about how effectively individuals respond to stress, pressure and challenge. Understanding this concept is essential to improving performance for both the entrepreneur & the enterprise.
7. To excel overcome your fear. Everyone has his own share of fears. Even the best of the best all have fear, but they conquer it. To overpower your enemy, you must identify your enemy. Mediocre people shy away from their fears. They either disregard them or hide from them. However, the best, hunt for them out and face them with the objective of conquering them. Fear is the enemy of success. Large rewards only result from taking comparably large risks. If you’re ruled by fear, you’ll never take enough risks and never achieve success you deserve. To conquer fear, you must consciously dethrone “security” as the thing that you value most in your life and replace it with the active virtue of “courage.”
8. To excel make the most of the moment. When the best entrepreneurs are in the midst of their performance, they are not thinking “What if I win?” or “What if I lose?” They are not concerned in what the moment produces but are concerned only with what they produce in the moment. As a result, the best define the moment rather than letting the moment define them. To excel, entrepreneurs must grab the moment and make the most of it. One must seize the day and make the most of every opportunity. Being proactive helps in making a difference. An entrepreneur’s work life is shaped by just a few key career moments. Successful entrepreneurs learn to recognize and make the most of them.
9. To excel leave a legacy. The best entrepreneurs live and work with a bigger purpose. They begin with the end in mind. They leave a legacy by making their lives about more than just themselves. This larger purpose is what inspires them to be the best and strive for greatness over the long term. It helps them move from success to significance. We all want to be remembered, to feel that we’ve contributed something to the world. For an entrepreneur, this can be a driving force leading to great accomplishments and extraordinary contributions to mankind. Leaving a legacy is about far more than material things. To leave a legacy of excellence, an entrepreneur must strive to be his best every day. As one strives for excellence he inspires excellence in others and serves as a role model for his children, friends and colleagues.
10. To excel make everyone around you better than before. Entrepreneurs do this through their own pursuit of excellence and in the excellence they inspire in others. One person in pursuit of excellence raises the standards of everyone around them. It’s in the striving where you find greatness, not in the outcome. A true entrepreneur is an individual who through his/her contribution not only helps the team reach its potential, but makes everyone on the team shine and look great on the way.
A life of excellence comes from continually making a contribution. You don’t have to strive to be the next Steve Jobs or Warren Buffet, but you can certainly make a difference by being your own true self. So look for ways to contribute.
Ask yourself what special skill or knowledge do you have, that can solve a problem or make the best of a situation?
Let us pursue excellence in whatever endeavor we find ourselves in, then financial rewards will surely follow.