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The Pursuit of Excellence

People appreciate excellence.

Whether it’s an exceptionally well produced Broadway play, a well-written book that brings something to life so vividly that it enchants you and changes your outlook on life, the best pair of socks in the world or a wedding with just the right music, ambiance, and overall experience –

if it’s truly excellent people notice.

And marketing campaigns and company slogans proclaim things like, “Excellence in Everything We Do”.

We know people appreciate excellence by the popularity, sales volumes and prices, and the overwhelming response via word of mouth.

Since people appreciate excellence and it’s often lucrative to create things with excellence, why don’t we all do things with excellence?

Short answer.

IT ISN’T EASY

Long answer.

It takes PASSION.

And…

It’s COSTLY – both from a TIME and FINANCIAL standpoint.

And…

You have to be willing to SACRIFICE.

Sacrifice your time – both socially and in terms of other business opportunities. Sacrifice your income – short-term investment risk or the opportunity cost of other income opportunities.

And striving for excellence comes with vulnerability.

Vulnerability to criticism, to failure, to accepting success.

But if you choose to pass on excellence, be prepared to accept that there will be no fairytale of overnight success.

I can tell you from working in M&A that people work for years to build businesses and I could point to countless stories where the real work began 10-12 years before the “overnight” success magically occurred.

So armed with this knowledge – is the pursuit of excellence worth it?

Like many things the answer is –

SOMETIMES.

It’s not practical to pursue every minute daily task with excellence nor do we have enough will power and resources to do so.

Which is why we appreciate when someone else has done something excellence that we can benefit from.

So will I pursue excellence?

YES – but what? How?

I’m still figuring out my passions – beyond the cliché of family and friends (of course I want to be an excellent mom, wife, friend, daughter) – I’m still figuring out what I’m so passionate about that I won’t get bored, that I’m willing to sacrifice things for, that I NEED to do it with EXCELLENCE.

When I figure this out and have the recipe to help you figure out your passion – I’ll let you know.

STAY TUNED!

But I don’t think you have to give up your day job or take on so much risk or put the livelihood of your family in jeopardy.

Here’s an example of a passion pursued with excellence that did NOT require leaving a day job:

This holiday season I was reminded that you don’t have to find a lifelong passion, to find something worth pursuing with excellence.

Drum roll please….or should I say TV remote please?

Fireplace for your Home.

You know, the on-demand fireplace you can play on your TV with the click of a button?  There are versions with crackling, Christmas music and even Birchwood and a new 4K edition.

But how did all of this come about? George Ford did the following…

  • Spent 1.5 YEARS building and filming countless fires until he got it right
  • Spent $35K INVESTMENT – equipment rental, firewood consultants, supplies
  • Exposed himself to VULNERABILITY – in the pursuit of excellence even (or perhaps especially), his family thought he was crazy. When the fireplace finally released, a trailer was created that was actually a parody of someone building the perfect fire.

All of it paid off.

Even those who turned it on because the parody was entertaining or bought it for a friend who wanted a fireplace as a joke – they ended up loving it and spreading the word.

And then, in addition to Netflix, Hulu and other providers, Amazon sales soared and a 4.5 star Amazon rating has stood the test of time.

Even though most of us aren’t that passionate about building the perfect fire and don’t have $35K to drop on something like that (present company included) –

this is the perfect example of a passion that…

  • does NOT require a CAREER CHANGE,
  • does NOT require you to QUIT your DAY JOB and
  • PROVIDES SATISFACTION and financial GAIN…
  • along with a HEALTHY dose of HUMBLE PIE as your family and friends rib you about how crazy into this pursuit you are.

And if you really focus, I’m talking about Deep Work here (click for more on this Super Power: Deep Work), it doesn’t take 10,000 hours to achieve excellence (10,000 hour rule debunked).

Think about it – at 1.5 years of working on this, let’s say an aggressive 20 hours/week spent on this (likely it was less and in sprints or a week off from time to time), we’re talking 1,500 hours. Not years dedicated to something you’re not sure will pan out or stand the test of time.

What’s worth pursuing with excellence in your life?

 

 

Notes:

  • If you’re curious about Fireplace for Your Home you can read this interview article about its creator, George Ford.
  • If you’re curious about the 10,000 hour rule you can read more here and here.

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