As a young woman in the late 90’s working in the world of glossy magazines, I came upon the charismatic business guru Tom Peters, and his book with the riveting title, In Search of Excellence

That was the first time I encountered “excellence” rolled up with “business.” It felt novel, radical, exciting!

At the time I worked for the publishing house, Condé Nast. I was proud in the belief that we strove to marry cutting-edge photography with informed writing. In producing high quality editorial, I told myself, we were entrenched in excellence. No matter what hurdles the day to day brought, feeling rooted in the pursuit of high standards made me proud. Pride overflowed positively into my sense of self and my identity.

In the intervening years, with more life and business experience, I came to see that excellence though critically anchored in delivering quality, is about much more.

First there’s the story. The story we tell the world about our product or about our self. If we’re able to inject our stories with what we stand for and believe in, then we make a connection with others. This tantalising moment holds potential.

What follows is the need for deep listening, a necessary challenge! In the midst of hard conversations are born fresh perspectives, innovation.

At its heart excellence is a promise that we make to another, both explicitly and implicitly. If we don’t remain alive to our promises, everything slips. One must care, take care again and again to keep our promises, or else the relationship wobbles.

We’re talking here about business and the personal, aren’t we? About building trust, showing respect, letting our attempts to honour our promises shine through our dealings together.

Excellence is about promises made and the care taken to keep those promises.

But really, here’s the rub: The pursuit of excellence is worthwhile in and of itself, because it elevates and transforms mere doing into something weightier. Shifts commerce and living, from the realm of the mundane, into the realm of the sublime.

You walk taller, feel more energised, when you strive to inject the elixir of excellence into everything you touch.