Watching NCAA student athletes compete in their sport at the highest possible stage, to challenge an opponent, to give their all for their school colors, to passionately strive to bring that coveted trophy home literally makes me so hype! The NCAA tournament allows a platform for teams to reveal the level of athletic excellence that they are capable of achieving. Being an NCAA DIII National Champion, I must attest to the fact that excellence is necessary for any athlete or team to exhibit!
Excellence is a word that sounds nice, I may even describe it as professional. However, most of us only value excellence when we see the results of it. For example, the National Champion of the final four must have an aspect of excellence to have made it to that pinnacle achievement. The end result, being the Champion, is a fruit of the process of being excellent. Those athletes did not just wake up on gameday and decide that was the day that they were going to be excellent. Those athletes have been fighting to chase excellence for months, and for some, years.
Excellence is a process that exposes weakness, forges character, and builds resilience.
From an athlete perspective, excellence starts in the mind. It’s a decision to take responsibility for my actions, my emotions, my responses, and my perspective. It means waking up before the sun to go work out, even though I had a competition or tough training the night before. It means taking the time to listen to a teammate who is struggling, despite my own level of stress. It means fueling my body correctly to increase recovery, regardless of my friends’ nutritional choices. It means making my workout a purposeful one instead of going through the motions, even when I really don’t feel like going hard. It means thoughtful preparation of my week ahead of time, complete with meals, training, school/work responsibility, and proper attire for each activity.
Excellence is an expression of the things/goals that you value. If you value something, the natural progression is to spend time developing that which you value. Whether chasing a National Championship, a healthy lifestyle, a reputable character based on integrity, a healthy marriage, a career centered on work ethic…excellence is the basis behind the fruit of success.
It’s not flashy, and those around you may not even notice (which reveals your true motives as to what you value and why), it is difficult, and it is a habit. It’s a progression that starts small. Setting your alarm 10 minutes early to meditate before the stress of the day begins; meal prepping on the weekends, rolling out sore muscles post workout, making a phone call to let someone know that you care for them ( I am a millennial, and some may call that “cheesy”; but you better believe if someone calls me just to tell me they are thinking of me, I’m going to describe that as super thoughtful! ), writing out the weekly plan before the week begins, getting adequate sleep….all things that are mundane. All these things that really seem quite simple on the surface.
That is the essence of excellence- and everyone has the capability and the potential to be excellent!
How to begin this process? Create habits that you choose, that propel you to that which you value, that which cause positive influence to those around you. The choices that you make for yourself and your personal journey in the pursuit of excellence has power. It may not seem like it; but the influence that you have goes beyond anything you can quantify.
So, pursue excellence in all you do. Be the example of excellence through one simple choice at a time.