The Pursuit of Excellence

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“Excellence” just becomes a more respectable word for “control” which is a fancy version of “manipulation” which is a physiological word for “sin.”…   Emily Freeman

I read these words from the book Simply Tuesday and let them sink in.

I help overwhelmed professionals EXCEL.

Is it wrong to excel?


But it depends on what you excel at.

In 1 Thessalonians, 4:10, Paul commends the Thessalonians for their love, but exhorts them to excel still more.

“or indeed you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more.”

When we think of excellence, especially in business, what do we think of?

  • A product that is selling better than we expected.
  • A published piece that has no typos.
  • Getting all the facts straight in a report.
  • The financial reports being accurate.
  • The presentation to the investors going well.
  • The office looking spiffy.
  • Employees looking sharp.
  • Meeting and exceeding customer needs.

Are those bad things? No, but what’s the motivation?

Do we want to excel so we can control our image or turn certain outcomes our way? Or do we want to excel in loving and serving people?

I confess that I want to excel in business and often measure it in my bottom line. Am I contributing enough to the household budget? Do I need to supplement by finding more work? How many clients do I have or teaching gigs lined up or online books/resources are selling? These are all tangible measures of business “excellence.” They deserve some attention, but also, quite frankly, too much focus on these results can cause stress.

Instead, what if I were to think in this framework at least some of the time, to complement the look at financials and metrics?

  • Did I excel today in helping (insert client name here) improve THEIR business or work life (or even personal life) a little bit?
  • Did I guide (insert a reader’s name here) to think more clearly about an issue or idea?”
  • Did I help (insert student’s name here) streamline their day a little bit or get along better with their teammate?’’

And, am I willing to reach beyond my comfortable “Macedonia” to help and love others, even those different from me?

An answer of “yes” to THOSE questions is what excelling is all about.

If only…

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