Written and Collaborated by Mark Kamin, CEO and Toni Kendall, Partner & Senior Program Leader

In our work with well over a thousand companies, and many thousands of people, maybe the most relevant and profoundly important subject that needs addressing is “Excellence.”

If it is discussed during the normal course of everyday business, it is, as we have observed in the hundreds of thousands of interactions we see, discussed with no depth, mostly as conceptual pablum, and without any passion for the power of this particular distinction.

The passion for excellence, as a context for people doing their jobs, is the one essential element available in one’s work life that has the most transformative impact on the lives of the world’s workforce. It is more powerful in its impact than money.

When someone, be it a front line worker or a CEO, grasps the impact of being excellent in the way he or she works, everything in their life gets better….a lot better. Life gets better in a way that money cannot buy. If people understood the power of excellence, they would quit working for ordinary companies and choose to go to work for those companies that create a culture and a demand for true excellence from everyone, including the C-Suite.

The ingredients that make up “Excellence,” when learned and lived, become part of the fabric of one’s life. One cannot be excellent as a “sort of thing” or as a concept. There is no way to BE excellent without being someone who can cause life to work, whether it be in raising children, living a healthy life, having a quality relationship with a spouse or partner, or being grateful and privileged as a way of viewing life itself. When one is imbued with a love of excellence, there is no such thing as low self-esteem or dwelling on past mistakes and failures.

Let’s dive in …..

EXCELLENCE is only available when someone is present, in the NOW. There is no excellence available when one is located in their head, their thoughts, or even their emotions. A world class ballerina, or an Olympic athlete must perform their skill, honed from hundreds of hours of disciplined training, in the present moment. There are no Olympic champions who are not fully engaged in the NOW while competing. Think about it. Is there really ever any time we are fully alive for ourselves, other than when we are fully present? If you develop excellence as a passion, you will get more and more and more present to your life and be more alive.

Being Highly Intentional

If you are going to be excellent you will need to be out to cause life to go in the direction you say it should go. The same skill required to be excellent with my team at work, or in doing what I say I am committed to in my job, is that ferocity of purpose that alters how one raises kids or expresses their commitment to their health or spouse or partner.


To be excellent, one must have real integrity to that to which one is committed. By integrity we mean the honoring of what you have committed to, so that, you do things you agreed to do, do them the way that they are meant to be done, and you honor what you are committed to. There is hardly any real integrity in the way people live. People (including those of you reading this blog) justify not doing what they say and pretty much live ordinary lives. Very, very few people do exactly what they say or apologize when they don’t. People don’t even write down their promises. When I (Mark) was raising small children, I wrote down every single promise I made to them, even the small one. Those commitments to them were just as important as the commitments I made at work. I am on time and when I am not, I apologize and clean it up, without excuses or justifications.

This is not how 99% of humanity lives. It is how the one percent that strive to be excellent at some passion or commitment choose to live.

A Way Of Life

There is no arriving at Excellence. The greatest American boxer of all time, Mohammed Ali, according to some sports’ writers, never quit striving, even after being crowned the Heavyweight Champion of the World. Van Gogh never quit striving to make his art better and better, constantly seeking excellence. What they failed at was to translate that striving into every area of life. However, for the average worker, that is the BIG payoff….to bring excellence to all areas of life. It can be done. Each team member at Mark Kamin & Associates does that. We train others to do that. We support the people we work with in seeing how much they can benefit from being excellent.

The Enemies Of Excellence

There are three powerful adversaries to living a life of true Excellence. The first is perfection. People see that they cannot be perfect so they give up striving for being the best that they can be over and over and over again. Human beings are flawed, and life is filled with what we see as flaws and mistakes. That does not mean one cannot be Excellent.

The second enemy of Excellence is doing one’s job “really well.” If I am successful and I make enough money, or have enough admiration, there seems to be no reason to strive. If there is striving, much of it is driven by some underlying need to compensate for some issue from the past. There is, however, the possibility of loving being excellent for its own sake. It is an acquired taste.

The third and biggest enemy of Excellence is being reasonable. We humans listen to that little voice in our heads that is constantly whining reasons at us, especially reasons not to do things that are too demanding. If you do not know that you have a very reasonable little voice in your head, just start a rigorous nutritious diet, or start exercising, or fall deeply in love…..and you will quickly see what that little voice has to say.

If we have one wish for the many thousands of people we touch every year, it is that we succeed at imbuing them with a passion for Excellence.

Bring Excellence To Your Organization

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