Our current economic crisis is a perfect example of the short-term approach we’ve taken in our quest for success. With so much emphasis on material abundance and the accumulation of wealth - wealth for wealth’s sake – many find themselves holding a bag of defunct currency in today’s economy. It’s unfortunate.

But, as a result we seem to be returning to the basics. Banks are reverting to solid lending practices. Companies are focusing of what they do best. People are questioning their priorities, getting more creative, considering different choices, and paving pathways to success reminiscent of the past. We call this excellence, and it takes us back to a time when there was increased personal accountability and a balanced approach in how we achieve and define success.

Look, this isn’t about demonizing wealth. To the contrary, I like it as much as the next person. But over the years, we’ve forgotten to ask ourselves why we want what we want and how to employ the most productive behaviors to fuel progress.

Sometimes this means slowing down long enough to go fast. This wouldn’t include Enron-like character traits or creating short-term gains on the back of others – success at any cost. No, we believe sustainable success is an outcome of living by the timeless and simple principles of excellence, at least as we see them:

• Self-Understanding - know yourself and use this knowledge to accept, adapt or create a new reality;
• Optimization - show up as your best self and work from a place of personal strength, character and empowerment;
• Choices – make decisions that take you closer to what’s most important and don’t compromise on the big stuff;
• Action – take enjoyable, calculated and intentional steps every day based on what you want from life.

I know this might seem too simple, but this is the formula the truly successful follow. We’ve seen it time and time again. They begin with the end in mind, and work backwards. They’re crystal clear of the purpose in their goals and every step they take is a dance. They believe in themselves and others, work from a place of strength and personal accountability, and move forward based on the vision they see for themselves. They celebrate arriving at success’ doorstep, but also enjoy the journey. They see and inspire excellence in others.

And finally, they hold the knowledge that creating long-term happiness is the gateway to success – not the other way around.
Yes, living excellence is a journey, not a destination. And, though the principles are simple, trying to live them in our growing results-at-any-cost culture takes a disciplined approach. It doesn’t entail giving up the dream of a luxurious house, that big promotion or increased profits. Nope. Just understanding the why behind the goal, staying focused on what you want, and going after it in ways that would make your children or parents proud.

Yup, excellence - back to the basics.

Author's Bio: 

Susan Crampton Davis, Founder of Positive Change Network (PCN), specializes in coaching and empowerment workshops. She brings extensive expertise and passion around employee engagement and believes people do their best when they work from a place of personal strength, are moved into action through internally motivating factors and self-discipline, and always show up as their best self. This belief led to the creation of PCN and the dedication to create more empowerment, fulfillment and success in today’s workforce – one person at a time.

Susan enjoyed a twenty-five year career in various senior roles in business leadership and human resources. Susan took a three year hiatus from PCN to join the important work of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, but has now returned to her life’s work. Prior to establishing PCN and her work at the foundation, Susan has also played leadership roles at Getty Images, Amazon, HomeGrocer, Staples and W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc.