3 Traits of Excellence

Disney World is my favorite place.  Walt Disney is one of my heroes.  The Walt Disney Company does many things well, but sets a standard in one particular area.

Disney defines excellence.

While most Disney guests walk the park looking up at the rides, I like to look down at the ground.  Disney World is notable for what you do not see—wrappers, gum, or spilled popcorn.  I am always amazed that thousands of people can walk down Main Street and yet it remains spotless.  Custodians clean the streets at night so it is “show ready” the next morning.  During the day custodians are also hard at work, constantly cleaning, sweeping and picking up. Managers and employees are also trained to make neatness everybody’s business.

I wonder what would happen if we all operated with that same level of excellence.  Since the church world is my space, I filter excellence through questions like these.  Are my volunteers informed about what is happening this week?  How does our facility smell?  Are there cobwebs in the corners?  Is my appearance presentable?  

I want to challenge you to rethink leadership excellence regarding things large and small.  Do you have something you would dismiss as "not important" or "too nit-picky” that seems to be a detail Disney would care about?  If so you may need to adjust your mindset towards excellence.  I want to share three specific, and sometimes passed over, traits of excellence.

Excellence is an attitude.

According to a Stanford University study, success is only 8% aptitude and 92% attitude.  That is telling to me.  Excellence depends more on your outlook than on your talent.  If attitude matters so much it means it is not a certain set of skills or a system that does generates excellence.  Rather a posture of the heart or an approach brings it.  The simple truth is that attitude, and excellence, begin with you.

Excellence is not the only place where attitude sets you apart.

Excellence sweats details.

Excellence in little things lead to big opportunities.  Details are what set apart average leaders and organizations from ones that are unforgettable.  Conversely, those who ignore the small elements suffer.  If you don’t pay attention to what no one else sees, you will eventually pay the price for what no one else can forget. 

Sweating the right details resulted in this young lady being a top world leader.

Excellence sees what others overlook.

If a leader asks me, “How can I grow in excellence?” I tell them one thing:  Learn how to anticipate.  This is an invaluable quality.  Be one step ahead.  It conveys to me that I can trust this leader with important things and vital details.  Anticipation is learning to see through lenses that others never realize they need.  This easy way to grow this muscle is by doing something extra everyday that you were never told or asked to do.  It grows an ability to be ahead to the game by seeing what no one else was able to.

Excellence is … Caring more than others think is wise; Risking more than others think is safe; Dreaming more than others think is practical; Expecting more than others think is possible.
— Winston Churchill