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“Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it. Autograph your work with excellence” – Author Disputed
While I couldn’t find a credible source for the author of today’s quote, I do really enjoy and believe in the words. (Sometimes the quote’s author is written as “unknown”, sometimes as Vince Lombardi, but I really can’t be sure.)
Taking pride in one’s work is such a wonderful feeling, isn’t? However, it’s not always the easiest feeling to get, am I right? We’ve probably all submitted work we’re not sure is our best,
On Pursuing Excellence
Well, I have to say that this was drilled into me (as far as academics go, anyway) when I was a kid. In fact, I just read a trending article this morning called “Nagging Mothers, Successful Daughters”. It’s an academic study that found that when parents expected their daughters to excel, and reminded them of it constantly, they did.
Makes sense, right? I fully believe the pursuit of excellence is best done when collaborating – when working with others to reach your goals.
Personal Goals vs. Benchmarks
To what extent should we compare ourselves to others? Well, as you likely know I set my goals every year, and check up on them every 6 months. I like to make them as realistic as possible and have milestones to track my progress.
While it’s not the best idea to constantly compare your goals to goals of people who are in a completely different position, I think fair benchmarking is helpful. For example, take a look at some of your idols, and where they were at your stage in your goal. If you’re a blogger for example, look at what some of the most successful bloggers did in their early years, not only how they are doing after years of success.
Trying to set up a tutoring business, or online teacher business? Be sure to benchmark like with like, and compare yourself to where other teachers started out. (If you want some help, check out this year’s Online Teacher Summit from Paulino Brener here – it starts today!) Oh, and I’ve got a course to help you become a Profitable, Organized English Teacher, too. You can get 50% this year if you join my mailing list today. Just pop your email into the form at the end of this page, and the coupon code will be in your welcome email!
How To Excel
I realize how easy it is to get stuck on looking for perfection. Sometimes, we can be completely paralyzed because we don’t think we’re going to do something right, let alone perfectly. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve stalled or procrastinated parts of my PhD because I was so stressed over whether I was doing it right.
Does that sound familiar? My best advice is to do the best you can, and take pride in it. This helps me a lot in deciding when a draft is finished. I’d suggest asking your students to ask themselves the following questions before they hand something in, too:
- Have I done the best I can?
- Am I proud of my efforts?
If this sounds wishy-washy, hang in there and try it. It works for me!
If you’ve been following my blog for a period of time, I’m sure you’ve heard me use the term “Blogger Heroes”. That’s the term I use to refer to my blogging idols. I definitely believe in looking for role models, so that I, too, can excel.
While it’s important to compare your current situations to others in the same situation, it’s also important to dream, and to recognize the effort required to get there.
At times, when I see my Blogger Heroes progress in their latest, greatest ventures, I will admit there is a tiny, fleeting moment of jealousy and awe – wow. Amazing. Incredible. Wow. Then, I get my feet back on the ground, and remember that they worked so hard to get where they are, and I will get there, too. Don’t forget to look at how and when they excel, and how far they have come from their beginnings, not only their current progress.
As the creator of Twitter puts it, “10 years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success”.
Speaking of trying really hard, why not start now?
Sometimes, we even hold off on goals because it’s not the “perfect” time to start. I love the thought that beginning makes something perfect. Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of emails from readers saying they wish they had time to blog, like I do. (Thanks for all the wonderful emails, by the way. You make my day by sending them!).
All I can say is that if it’s a priority you have to make time, my friends. Now, don’t get me wrong – sometimes my blog has to suffer so other priorities (ahem, PhD degree) can be my focus. Overall, though, it’s about consistency. If you want to excel, keep going. I’m still working on that, myself!
There will never be a perfect time.
Did you know I had the idea for this blog about a year and a half before I actually launched it? In fact, I was collecting PhD data at the time and thought, I’ll start this at Christmas. Then, swamped with work, I pushed it to the summer. In the summer, I started researching and attending all the webinars I could find on how to do this. Six months later, in November 2016 I launched.
It definitely wasn’t a perfect, work-free, blissful time to launch. (Quite the contrary, as I was doing a research stay in Holland and learning to program). I set a deadline, and stuck to it – and more or less, it’s worked!
As Mel Robbins is famous for saying, “You’ll never feel like it!”. Take a minute to check out her awesome TED Talk on How To Stop Screwing Yourself Over here if you haven’t seen it already.
I know I mention her a lot, but it’s worth taking a look at her work. You can watch the video below:
3 Ways To Take Action
Finally, I’d like to share three small ways you can begin to excel today. If you want to pursue excellence, you can’t do it alone. Well, maybe you could, but it’d be pretty lonely!
- Write It Down – Journalling and tracking your goals and progress can help you really figure out what you want to do, and how to do it.
- Tell A Friend – Share your ideas! It’s so much more exciting to start a new venture when a friend knows about it and can cheer you on
- Find An Accountability Buddy – Accountability buddies can be friends, but they are also there to nag you a bit. Having someone nag you just a tad, can help you immensely. If you have to send someone else a status update on your progress, suddenly there is someone who is depending on you to reach your goals.
What strategies do you use to excel? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below! I love the way this community engages in some of the motivational posts I’ve written – so I always want to hear what you have to say 🙂
Have a lovely, productive (or relaxing, if you’re on holiday!) Monday!
P.S. Photography fans, the photo for today’s post (and poster!) is one I took yesterday here in Barcelona of my “lemon tree”. (It’s in quotes because, despite my patience, there are only flowers so far 😉
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