What Drives Excellence

Have you ever asked why some people are excellent while some are mediocre? Why are some people demonstrating high levels of performances while some seem to simply give the minimum required and do not even go an inch further?

What drives excellence?

Last week, I received a note from the post office. (Yes, they are still useful!) I went to claim it. I was smiling from ear to ear as I opened it – it is the thick book of one of my virtual mentors, Brendon Burchard. The book is entitled High Performance Habits – How Extraordinary People Become That Way.


Below the title Introduction, he shared a quote from Aristotle that captures the concept of excellence beautifully and powerfully,

Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”

That last line is often quoted and you have probably heard it from someone before. But another thing that we must be reminded of is what many get it wrong – the truth that is revealed on the the second sentence from the quotation. We think that excellent people act the way they do because they are excellent already – but this is a misconception. What’s true is this: people are excellent because they act their way to excellence.

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Now, to complete that, it has to be understood that excellence is not brought by a single excellent act but rather a series of right actions repeatedly done. Consistently. For we become what we repeatedly do. And so Aristotle hammers it down, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”

This is what Brendon Burchard wants to capture and share in this book. It is about excellence. It is about high performance. And how do extraordinary people become what they are so that you and I may be able to model those high performers and emulate their series of actions called habits so that we may become high performers as well in our own right.

For a little background, Brendon has been training and coaching a lot of world-class high performers that gave him the perspective, understanding of philosophies, and application of practices that gave concrete results. As I read his book and devour the life skills he is sharing (he calls high performance habits), I aspire to reflect and ponder upon them, put them to practice, and share them with you (in series).

But where did it all start for Mr. Burchard? It all began when he had a near-death experience when he was nineteen to which, he said, “The incident changed my life, giving me what I call ‘mortality motivation’.”

He realized that at the end of our lives, when we face death, we shall ask the questions,

“Did I really love. Did I truly love? And did I make a difference.”

Read that again. Did I live? Did I love? Did I matter? This has become his mantra. Live. Love. Matter.

I think this captures it all. This is what drives excellence. It is owning your purpose to live and to love. And when you have that, you have no choice but to aspire for excellence, to go for high performance. For if you have to be present and alive, to give generously in love, you’ve got to give your all! In whatever area that you are in. In whatever field that you are in. In whatever business, profession or occupation you are in. This is what drives high performance.

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Before we even talk about the habits, we have to understand that first.

So what is high performance? In his book, Brendon Burchard defines, “High performance refers to succeeding beyond standard norms, consistently over the long term.”

What does he mean by that? We are going to talk about it next week as we continue to delve into the philosophies and practices that high performers embrace. In the process, we hope and aspire to raise our performance levels and be excellent in our own ways.

Today, start owning your purpose to live and to love. And this will drive excellence in your life! After all, you are a being of excellence.

Be the best you,

Chris Dao-anis

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