Thoughts on Excellence Free E-Newsletter Series
Volume 20, Issue No. 12b
May 15, 2022
By Dan Coughlin
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The innermost prize of the inner journey is to achieve excellence.
However, there’s a plot twist. Excellence is not a place to arrive at. It’s not a trophy to hold up. It’s not a treasure box filled with gold.
From my perspective, excellence is doing your best at whatever you’re doing while simultaneously learning how to do it better the next time.
You achieve excellence when you do whatever you’re doing as well as you can do it right now while learning how to do it better the next time. You and I can achieve excellence every day. However, it’s much easier said than done.
There have been six major steps on this inner journey:
- See and Surrender Your Selfishness
- Sustain and Embrace Virtue
- Courageously Clarify, Reclarify, and Stick with Your Morals
- Identify Your Higher Purpose
- Dive into Deep Discussions
- Contribute toward Fulfilling Your Higher Purpose
You achieve excellence on your inner journey when you do each of those steps to the best of your current ability while simultaneously learning how to do it better the next time.
Two Tools for Achieving Excellence
Here are two approaches that I have found to be enormously helpful in making consistent progress on my inner journey. I hope they are helpful to you.
This simple exercise I learned while I was in The Spiritual Exercises. Everyone does it a little differently. Essentially in my version of it, you write down 3 lists of 3-5 items in each list.
The first list consists of the virtues and morals you want to add into your life.
The second list consists of the virtues and morals that you want to keep in your life.
The third list consists of 3-5 ways in which you are selfish that you want to surrender and get out of your life.
You, and I, will still make mistakes, but I have found the Daily Examen to be amazingly helpful in shifting my thoughts, words, and actions to be more in line with what I want them to be. I hope you find this tool to be helpful as you work to achieve excellence.
The Process for Continually Raising Your Bar
The other tool for achieving excellence consists of four of my favorite questions, and you can apply them to each of the six major steps on your inner journey. Here they are:
- For this step on my inner journey, what was my goal and what have I achieved over the past 30 days?
- What did I do to try to achieve this goal that worked well and why did it work well, and what did I do to try to achieve this goal that did not work well and why did it not work well?
- In trying these things to improve at this step on my inner journey, what lessons did I learn or relearn?
- Going forward, what will I do the same and what will I do differently to improve at this step?
The inner journey is an on-going process. It’s not one of those deals where you go on a quest for the Holy Grail, and then you’re done. Instead you continually work to improve at each of the six major steps on the inner journey.
The good news is that you can achieve excellence on this journey as often as you are willing to do your best at each step and simultaneously learn how to do it better the next time.
Republishing ArticlesMy newsletters, Thoughts on Excellence, have been republished in approximately 40 trade magazines, on-line publications, and internal publications for businesses, universities, and not-for-profit organizations over the past 20+ years. If you would like to republish all or part of my monthly articles, please send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org with the name of the article you want in the subject heading. I will send you the article in a word document.