It is important to achieve personal excellence since a lot of people are unable to extract the maximum from life in terms of happiness, satisfaction and a sense of achievement. The prime reason for such a situation being that personal potency is not recognized and claimed by people. Hence it becomes essential to build and draw upon one’s emotional and internal resources in successfully working towards goals and objectives. Motivation can be successfully generated by going back and retrieving the applicable personal values. One ought to discover him or herself by thinking differently about the happenings in one’s life in order to highlight the positive aspects and remove the negativities in life. By practicing effective excellence and relaxation skills one can enhance the confidence level to create a positive and buoyant state of mind. Such a mental state enables one to use his or her potential talent and energies to the maximum in accomplishing the given goals. This paper will examine the different ways in which a person working as a human service worker can develop and maintain personal excellence in terms of ethics, job performance and personal attributes.
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In setting an agenda for personal excellence it is first essential to set forth an ethical model of leadership to assist professionals to increase in terms of virtue and demonstrate effective leadership skills. In attempting to develop one’s personal excellence it is imperative that ethical virtues must be developed to enhance professional leadership competencies as required in the modern world. Theoretically the personal excellence model in regard to ethics primarily concerns the science of virtue. A realistic attempt towards personal excellence has to be based on the study of human nature which implies the study of virtue and ethics. Virtue is a characteristic of the heart and the mind and assists in achieving personal excellence and professional efficiency. Personal excellence is all about virtue ethics since it inspires trust and is a dynamic force that improves upon our ability to take positive action. Humility and nobility are virtues of the heart and are pillars that identify the true leadership qualities of a person. Humility is all about living a truthful life in accepting one’s strengths and weaknesses and then improving upon the strengths and removing the weaknesses. Humility can blossom if a leader can deal with people as per the tenets of continuity, collegiality and inclusion.
Practical wisdom is an ethical virtue that has to be always practiced in maintaining personal excellence. One has to have courage, control over self and the ability to do justice, that are virtues and the foundation of leadership which test the will and mental aptitude of people. Maintaining caution in this regard increases the capability to take decisions in the right direction and gives courage in standing up to one’s principles and values against all worldly pressures. A person is not blessed with leadership qualities from birth but has to be trained to have a strong character. Temperament can assist in the imbibing of some ethical virtues but with the growth of ethics and virtues a character is formed so that temperament stops dominating us. The real hurdle in maintaining personal excellence is lack of a strong character which wears out the moral energy in us and thus unable to become strong leaders.
Personal excellence is achieved through the authority that is generated from a strong character. It becomes a vicious circle when low levels of self control and authority results in the misuse of power, which further erodes authority and discipline, which in turn blocks the channel to personal excellence. To enhance one’s ethical virtues one has to recognize the inherent desire and beauty and imbibe the virtuous habits spontaneously and practice them as a matter of routine by giving particular attention to reason. By practicing ethical values people can have a sense of maturity in terms of behaviour, emotions and judgment. The distinctive marks of maturity are being natural, experiencing happiness and confidence, psychological firmness and reliability. A major characteristic of people who practice personal excellence is that they are neither contemptuous nor detracting but exhibit qualities of being realistic. In showing such pragmatism they are able to have noble objectives of the soul despite being inundated with any number of weaknesses. This pattern of behaviour does not imply that one is showing weakness but reveals transcendence by way of practicing ethical practices.
An ethical trait of strong leaders is to strive to become excellent in whatever they do. Personal excellence does not aim at self improvement only; it is a combination of the virtues that one adopts for one self. It is important to be excellent first and then to be effective. Personal excellence involves living by virtue ethics instead of living by rules based on ethics.
Manz (2006) has defined personal excellence as recognizing “not only the importance of human influence in the determination of what we are and what we do, but also the complex nature of leadership, that is, influence is not an isolated event, but a process involving many parts” (Manz, 2006, p.113). The current literature about personal excellence through leadership commonly focuses on the influence that people have over others, implying that it is the influence that leaders exert on followers. While making attempts to understand and to improve our personal excellence it is required to first appreciate that excellence is not only an outward procedure but that we can lead ourselves to attain such a condition. The greatest source for improving ourselves comes from within and not from external sources.
Personal excellence implies self leadership which is largely defined as the “the process of influencing oneself to establish the self-direction and self-motivation needed to perform” (Manz, 2006, p. 125). Research has amply demonstrated that in different circumstance that vary from the airline industry to the domain of education, practicing efficient self leadership by workers and managers can result in a stream of advantages that includes higher levels of job satisfaction, effectiveness and psychological understanding. Maintaining personal excellence involves leading one self by utilizing both intellectual and behavioural procedures. Techniques of intellectual excellence involve the assessment and adaptation of self dialogue, values and notions, psychological imageries and the thinking pattern.
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It must be noted that effectiveness of self leadership techniques cannot be based on egotistic or autonomous employee behaviours without giving due regard to the group or society. Instead, personal excellence requires a synchronized attempt amongst employees and the groups or society as a whole. Implied from this viewpoint is the stability and trade off amongst self leadership of the employee and the self leadership of the group and society as a cooperative effort. Hence for attaining self leadership there needs to be equilibrium between highlighting on the consistency of a group or organization and emphasizing on values and identities of every single employee. Therefore self leadership does not necessitate independent behaviour without giving attention to the issues facing the group or organization. It also does not demand that the identities and values of all employees should be completely ignored in favour of the interests of the company or institution. Instead, the presence of an effective perception of self leadership encourages employees to discover their respective personal identities and means of contributing to the company or group in synergizing to improve performance. Thus, attempts by employees to imbibe self leadership qualities offers substantial scope for enabling the search for employee effectiveness and excellence to higher levels. In essence, employees that lead themselves both in terms of behaviour and effectiveness can provide the best plans in bringing about employee and organizational efficiency (Vasilash, 2009).
An essential requirement for personal excellence is the ability to prevent problems and to have skills for problem solving. One must have analytical ability to tackle problems by using approaches that effectively use logic and which are sequential and systematic. Discrepancies and contradictions should be observed in the available information and complicated problems and tasks be approached by breaking down all components and dealing with each one minutely. All possible reasons for the complexity in life or at work must be identified by using systematic procedures to ascertain the cause of the problem. In work situations, diagnostic information gathering is required to ascertain the information required to understand the prevailing situations. The required information has to be identified in clarifying situations and making decisions. The source of such information has also to be identified and people have to be sought who can clarify about the problem situations. A prudent and skilful employee will ask several questions to clarify the situation. An employee who believes in personal excellence will evaluate different options and consider the consequences and repercussions, will choose efficient options and implement solutions within a time period that is reasonable and justified (Gallozi, 2009).
In terms of personal attributes a person who seeks to achieve personal excellence must have an orientation for learning and be excited at the prospects of gathering additional information, learning better techniques and superior procedures. One must recognize and get energized by opportunities that enable learning while addressing challenges and problems. It is helpful in radiating possibility by taking interest in gathering information through whatever means possible to improve one’s results in life. If one is flexible in being open to varied ways of doing things and ready to alter his or her favoured method for the same, it is possible to effectively take charge of changes happening in the given environment. Such a person can realize the advantage of switching over to options that may not have been put forth by his own perspectives. It is then possible to switch over to another strategy if the initial one does not bear the desired results.
If one is thorough in his approach, the completion and accuracy of his work can be guaranteed. Taking initiative by doing something before the situation demands, taking such an action is very helpful in asserting oneself in the opinion of others. One who aims at achieving personal excellence ascertains the desired goals and communicates effectively to others, pursues the goals with commitment despite any hurdles and frustrations. He exerts extraordinary efforts and time to achieve the given goals and objectives and displays a solid sense of commitment in getting the required work done and in getting over difficult situations.
To achieve personal excellence it is imperative to build communication and relationship skills. Concerted relationships and networking play a very important role in developing, maintaining and strengthening partnerships with team members and others within the organization so as get support, help and information as and when required. A person who strives to achieve personal excellence will identify and build relationships with people who can assist, cooperate and provide support whenever required. He is farsighted in providing help, information and encouragement to his people in building a future foundation of responsiveness. Such people are appreciative and have a high sense of gratitude for those who provide help and support. In being true leaders they evince keen interest in the opinion expressed by others and show respect for their beliefs and viewpoints. They also give recognition to others’ perceptions and business concerns. To be effective one must have effective communication skills in expressing oneself clearly and in a manner that assists others in understanding and ensuring that the required information has been meaningfully conveyed to the concerned people (McCreary, 2009).
In seeking personal excellence it is essential to provide for the occurrence of mistakes since they are believed to be the seeds of evolution and change. It has been correctly written by Passuello,
“that the journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step. And it’s within this single step that lessons are learned, directions are given, and mistakes have already been made a thousand times over. It is in fact this single step that provides us with an opportunity to learn from all those who came before us and to lay down the seeds of personal evolution and change. Learning from another’s experience could be the most important factor towards achieving any kind of success in life” (Passuello, 2008).
It is important to be very careful while comparing oneself with others. We know everything about ourselves including our successes, our failures, our weaknesses and our strengths. About others we know only what is revealed to us as chosen by them which is not enough to conclude about a person. We must have a meaningful approach to judge ourselves and our abilities, and it is always helpful to feel good and be ready to face the challenges that come our way. Lot of people are unable to bear the uncertainties of life and give up at a time when success may be very near. The idea is to never give up but to keep trying by changing strategies with the objective in mind.
Personal excellence implies personal growth in several ways. The first prerequisite is to have goals since one cannot achieve excellence unless it is known what a person is going after. If one does not have a sense of direction, life becomes without any motive and one ends up in being a viewer only of what is happening around him or her. It is hence important to develop one’s goals and dreams in life for which a systematic plan has to be made. People can do away with the struggles of life if they can stay committed in pursuing their goals and dreams on a daily basis. Essentially, personal excellence boils down to the ability to remain committed to improving one’s self on a daily basis. The required time has to be given to improve one’s self. In adapting one self to this kind of attitude a lot of stress is taken away and one can relax in knowing that he or she is working towards his or her goals on a daily basis. It will not be long before the given goals will be accomplished and then, one is free to take further steps in setting a bigger goal.
If we can do something everyday that adds value to our life we are moving towards personal excellence. It is better to start with small objectives so that one can steadily move up in setting higher personal goals as the previous ones are achieved. The fundamental basis of personal excellence is consistent progress, preferably in all aspects of life. If one can remain focussed with no pressure being exerted to complete everything in one attempt, it is possible to achieve great things in life. Ultimately the bottom line lies in the fact that personal excellence implies commitment to one self. This commitment entails that one is focussed on a daily basis to the string of activities that lead towards his or her goals without providing any ground for getting stressed.
- Gallozzi Chuck, Personal Excellence.
- Manz Charles and Neck Christopher P, Mastering Self-Leadership: Empowering Yourself For Personal Excellence, 2006, Prentice Hall p. 113, 123-129
- McCreary Randy, Unlocking a Key to Personal Excellence, 2009, Canada Free Press
- Passuello Luciano, 66 Best Personal Excellence Tips, 2008, Litemind
- Vasilash Gary, Achieving EXCELLENCE.