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Tidbit of Information: 50 Steps to Excellence

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This Tidbit of Information came to me on Sunday, August 17, 2003 from Tony Celino.
Thanks, Tony!


50 Steps to Excellence


50 Steps to Excellence

As long as you're going to live, and work and play, do it with excellence. Life is not meant to be half lived. Some are so afraid of death that theydon't even talk about it, yet they kill themselves a little bit each day when they don't live that day to the fullest. Might this apply to you? Read on. . .

Here are 50 techniques for living a life of excellence. Of course there are many more ways -- this list is certainly not meant to be all-inclusive. However, it is meant to get you thinking, and to help you look at ways in which you can bring excellence to everything you do.

1. Follow through, follow up.

Starting new things is exciting, and demands a great deal of effort. Finishing them really doesn't take that much more effort. Yet because the follow through is often not as exciting, we tend not to do it. What a waste! Many times, just a little more effort to finish the job will bring big results. Follow up and follow through, and make the most of the time and effort you've already invested.

2. Do what you can do.

Rather than getting stuck on something you don't understand or are unable to do, move on and get busy doing something you can do. Worry and frustration are a big waste. They accomplish nothing. Keep on track by finding something you can do.

3. Do it right the first time.

You'll be much more efficient when you only have to handle things once. The extra time you take to get it right the first time, will pay off because you won't have to go back and fix it later.

4. Be honest. You simply cannot cheat life.

You may be able to get by with it for a while, but in the end your dishonesty primarily cheats yourself. When you're honest, you can live and work without the constant distraction and worry of being found out, of having your house of cards collapse. Honesty often requires sacrifice, and it is well worth it in the value it brings to all you do. Your reputation is one of your biggest assets, and it makes sense to build and protect it continually.

5. Know yourself.

Know your strengths and weaknesses and use that knowledge to do what you do best. Know your limits. Know when to turn down an assignment or delegate work to someone else. Know what you're really good at, and then find ways to apply your skill and create value.

6. Expect the best.

The best of yourself, and of those you work with, of life, and you'll get it. Your expectations play a key role in the reality of everything you do. Your mind is a powerful goal-seeking device. When you point it in the right direction, with positive expectations, it will do whatever is necessary to get you where you want to go. The more consistently you keep your mind on your positive expectations, the faster they will become a reality. Expect the best of those around you, and you generally will get it. Give people responsibility and respect, and they will usually be deserving of it. More than anything, expect the best from yourself. Talk to yourself in positive terms. You are constantly talking to yourself. Your thought patterns reinforce your expectations, over and over again, all day long, day after day after day. The least little bit of negativity, repeated again and again, can build itself into an invisible wall of negative expectations. Learn to expect the best from yourself. In the way you talk to yourself, in the way you plan for the future, in the choices you make. Ask yourself, as often as possible, what you would do if you were truly headed in the direction of your goals. And then just do it.

7. Challenge yourself.

Challenge forces you to grow, to build, to create, to excel. Challenge can motivate. It can teach you new skills and help you make new contacts. It builds confidence and competence. Seek out challenge, put forth the effort to meet the challenge. You will grow stronger and more effective. Being open to challenge will bring excellence to your life. The person you become in the pursuit of your dream is worth far more than any dream could ever be. What you get from challenging yourself, no one can ever take away.

8. Give it your best, and then a little bit more.

Sometimes just a little bit of extra effort will result in a big improvement. Look for ways to leverage what you have already done by making incremental improvements. It doesn't take that much more effort to do something as well as you possibly can. And as long as you're going to do it anyway, doesn't it make sense to give it your all? Yet, far too many people try to get by with as little as possible. And because of that, if you do just a little bit more than the minimum, you will rise above the crowd. If you show just the least bit of extra initiative, you'll be more successful than 95% of the people in this world. Everyone has the same amount of time. Success and achievement come to those who put the most effort into the time they have.

9. Be yourself - take advantage of your own unique perspective.

In everything you do, look for a way to put something of yourself into it. Instead of worrying about keeping up some sort of pretense, put your energy into being yourself. Excellence is not copied -- it is created within yourself.

10. Learn from every experience.

Everything, regardless of the outcome, is a learning experience. Disappointments and unintended results usually teach more than when everything goes exactly as expected. Yet we can learn from success, too. Look for a lesson in every experience. Learning doesn't stop when you get out of school -- in fact it's just beginning. A life of excellence comes from using the lessons of experience.

11. Think in terms of value.

Learn to look at every situation in terms of the value you can add to that situation. This perspective will uncover countless opportunities for excellence.

12. Start only what you know you can finish.

A job half done is a waste of time and effort.

13. Focus on one thing at a time.

Even though you have many things going at once, when you work on them arrange your time so you can give each one its share of undivided attention. Trying to do too much simultaneously can lead to errors, oversights, and time wasted in switching back and forth.

14. Be open to the ideas and suggestions of others.

Don't reject ideas just because you didn't think of them. Put your ego aside and seriously consider the suggestions of others. You might find something very useful, and at the very least you benefit by seeing things from a different perspective.

15. Tune out distractions.

Be disciplined enough to say no. As you work toward your goals, distractions will come up. Distractions that are new, and interesting, and perhaps even exciting. They will knock you off track if you let them. They will cause you to lose your focus. With the revolutionary advances in communication technology, distractions have increased in frequency and intensity. To keep from getting bogged down, you need to ask yourself this: What is more important, the goal or the distraction? Don't ignore distractions altogether or you'll be in danger of developing tunnel vision. Distractions can often carry useful information or opportunities. But you must keep them in perspective. Your goals are also important. And if you can't keep yourself focused, information and opportunities will do you no good. So resolve to always make a conscious choice. Decide if the distraction is worth the setback it would cause you. Take control of your productive time. Keep yourself on track.

16. Synthesize - combine different ideas and concepts in a new way.
Take things that already exist, and create something new from them.

17. Take care of your body.

It's where you live and it can make a big difference in the way you live. Being in top physical shape will give energy and focus to everything you do.

18. Take responsibility.

You are responsible for the value of your own life. No one can live life for you, and no one can prevent you from having the life you truly want. Don't waste time blaming others. Step up and take responsibility, and you will be in control of your own situation.

19. Aim high - push yourself to be your absolute best, then go beyond that.

You're capable of more than you think. You will never accomplish more than you set out to accomplish, so aim a bit higher than you think you can hit and be happy with what you achieve.

20. At the same time, be realistic.

Don't set your sights so high that you have no way of reaching your goal. An impossible goal can overwhelm and discourage you. Remember that success come from getting what you want and happiness comes from wanting what you get.

21. Be wisely consistent.

Effort applied consistently is more effective, by orders of magnitude, than a one-shot effort. Consistent effort will win out over genius, luck and talent. So many people try so hard to make it big. But making it big is very, very difficult. It doesn't happen very often. That's why, when it happens, you hear about it. It's big news. But you don't hear about the millions of times people try to make it big and don't. What we should be spending our time and effort doing is making it little. It's easy to do. Anyone can make a little improvement in what they are doing. And if you put your efforts into consistent, little improvements, soon they will add up and you will indeed have made it big. Try to make it big and you will spin your wheels; try to make little improvements and you will soon make it big.

22. Brainstorm -- ride your "wild mind."

Find possible solutions and approaches that are completely ridiculous. Be unreasonable as a creative exercise. Then take your "wild ideas" and find the things about them that could be useful.

23. Be observant.

Great ideas and insights can come from the least expected places. Observe and appreciate excellence whenever you come across it, and learn what you can from it.

24. Be open minded enough to at least consider new ideas.

Realize that you don't know it all. The world is changing all the time, and there are many new things that could add excellence to your efforts if you would just explore them. Closed minded people simply react, like an insect or a computer. Open minded people think and accomplish great things.

25. Know specifically what you want to accomplish.

It is vitally important to be specific. You cannot reach your destination unless you know exactly where it is. Knowing precisely what you want, enables you to evaluate your performance and make the corrections necessary to keep you on track.

26. Handle things as they come up.

When you put things aside for later, you lose much of your ability to deal with them. Better to make decisions and take action while everything is fresh in your mind.

27. Be curious -- ask why, and why not.

Things happen for a reason. When you understand the why, you gain control and effectiveness. Knowing why, and why not, will help you to avoid mistakes, and to create powerful strategies for excellence in all you do.

28. Learn how to use powerful tools and make the most of them.

There are many tools that you can use to leverage your efforts. These include technological tools such as computers, the Internet, an automobile, or a printing press; business and management tools such as a marketing plan or accounting system; financial tools such as cash management or a line of credit; and communication tools such as language. A tool is anything that makes your efforts more effective. The best way to gain advantage from tools is to understand when to use them and how to apply them. You don't necessarily need to know how they work, but rather understand what they can do and what they cannot do. Always keep in mind that the tool is not the issue. What's important is what you accomplish with the tool.

29. Think backwards.

Start with the ultimate goal, and work backwards to determine all the steps needed to reach it from where you are now. Creatively consider your options at every step along the way. Say you want to sail around the world. To do that you'll need a boat and plenty of experience sailing it. To get the boat you'll need money. To get the experience you'll need to take training courses and crew on other people's boats. To get the money you'll need to save and invest on a monthly basis. To take the training courses you'll need to do some research and see who offers the best ones. And so on... Any thing you want to do, any goal you have, can be worked backward like this, all the way back to today. Once you work it back all the way, you have a clear picture of what you need to do today, tomorrow, and every day until your goal is realized. Achievement does not come from wishful thinking. It comes from action. Before you can take action, you need to know what that action is. Look at where you want to be, and lay out the path to get there. Then, when you get started every morning, you'll know exactly where you're going.

30. Discard what doesn't work and replicate what does.

Revise your approach based on the results you experience. It doesn't make sense to stick with an approach that is obviously not working. Learn what you can from it and move on. Make adjustments often. Sometimes conditions change, and the approach that worked before no longer is effective. By the same token, when you find something that does work, consider ways to build on that success.

31. Write down your thoughts before you forget them.

Once you start doing this you'll be amazed at how many things cross your mind that you completely forget about. Have a pencil and paper ready at all times, and put things in writing. It will give you an endless source of great thoughts and ideas.

32. Be 100% committed to what you're doing.

If your heart's not in it, you will not be effective. Either find a way to become fully committed to what you're doing, or find something else to do. When you're totally committed, you will find a way around obstacles. Problems become opportunities. Excellence is possible only with commitment.

33. Look for ways to make a difference.

What can you bring to the table? What special skill or knowledge do you have, that can solve a problem or make the best of a situation? A life of excellence comes from continually making a contribution.

34. See problems and obstacles as opportunities.

The world is full of opportunities to create value and wealth -- and these opportunities come disguised as problems. Any problem is an opportunity to make an improvement. Problems and obstacles force you to focus your efforts toward a specific goal -- solving the problem. Problems are a blessing, because when you solve them you grow as a person and you gain valuable experience. You learn things that can allow you to help other people solve the same problem. If the problem you solve is big enough and widespread enough, the opportunity that creates could be enormous. Challenges and problems give you a chance to develop your resourcefulness. Problems are your opportunity to give it all you've got -- to truly shine as a person.

35. Learn from the experience of others.

Whatever you want to do, chances are that someone else has done something like it. You can learn a great deal from the successes and failures of others by reading, talking to people and watching their actions.

36. Take regular breaks.

Come up for air. When you go home at night, leave your work completely behind. Work diligently while you're working, and then put it out of your mind when you're not. Take a vacation and recharge your batteries. Then get back to work, refreshed and ready to create excellence.

37. Train yourself with mini goals.

Set a goal for the next five minutes, and then accomplish it. Make a list of things to do each day, and then cross off each item as you do it. Soon you will become addicted to the satisfaction that accomplishment brings, and that will motivate you to work on bigger goals.

38. Make it fun. Enjoy what you do.

You don't have to change what you do, just change your attitude toward it. Anything can be enjoyable if you approach it in the right way.

39. Do what needs to be done, that others are unwilling to do.

There's no competition. Step forward and take up the challenge.

40. Be reliable.

It will open up opportunities for you. No matter what your skill or intelligence, if people can rely on you that is of great value.
41. Visualize before you act.
Practice in your mind, over and over again. You can do whatever you think you can do. When you visualize yourself, clearly and vividly, successfully taking action and accomplishing your goals, you'll have the confidence and ability to actually do it.

42. Learn from criticism.

Don't become defensive, but strive to see the other person's point of view. Respect the fact that criticism is a form of caring. If someone didn't care, they would just say nothing at all. Realize that any criticism of your actions does not reflect negatively on you as a person. Objectively consider the criticism of others, and you can learn from it.

43. Realize that excellence is not perfection.

Do your very best, produce the highest quality, but don't worry about being perfect.

44. Live, work and play with passion.

Discover the purpose of your life and relate your actions to that purpose. Find things you can get passionate about and use them to create excellence in your life. You know you're passionate about something when you cannot, not do it.

45. Detach yourself from needs.

The need to be right, the need to be comfortable, the need to control others, the need for security, and the need to possess, among other things. These things are elusive. Don't need what you have -- have what you need. If always you think in terms of needing what you have, then you will never have enough. Instead, think in terms of having what you need and you will always enjoy abundance.

46. Think of the consequences.

What you do today will make a difference in your life tomorrow. What you do this month will make a difference next year. Work for the future and the future will work for you.

47. Be grateful and appreciative.

Appreciate the people around you. Appreciate the things you have. It fosters an attitude of abundance that will bring more good things to you.

48. Don't be afraid to ask questions.

It is better to admit what you don't know, and then learn something, than to pretend you know it and botch the job. There's no shame in not knowing. There are no stupid questions.

49. Look for ways to multiply your efforts.

Through training others, through technology, through business and marketing techniques. Find ways to get the highest and best results from every action you take.

50. Keep your eye on the goal.

Persevere. Stay with the goal till done. Remind yourself of why you're making the effort. Knowing why you're working will make you vastly more effective and keep you committed. When you know why, you'll do whatever needs to be done to get it. Instead of pushing yourself, let yourself be pulled by your goals.

-- Original idea and words written by Ralph Marston. Thanks, Ralph! ! !

51. Respect others.

Use 100% of the non-procreative derivatives of your own life and give gratitude and credit to the derivatives of others' lives that you use. The first fifty steps were the product of Ralph Marston's life. Show your appreciation and gratitude to him. Those 50 Steps represent his ideas, his words, and his effort applied using the very principles he outlined for us. Remember that.To thank Ralph Marston personally, go to: [This 51st one added by Bobby Matherne. Credit for this 51st Step goes to Dr. Andrew Joseph Galambos who devoted his life to helping others understand the need for respect for the derivatives, thoughts, ideas, products of others' lives.]

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