In Search of (Personal) Excellence In 1982, Tom Peters wrote a business classic called In Search of Excellence. The book’s popularity was largely based on the author’s research into how companies achieved superior performance. It outlined a number of practices that other organizations could implement in order to achieve their own version of excellence.
What many readers missed, however, was the underlying premise of the book: success was best achieved through a commitment to excellence. If you wanted your company to prosper, it wasn’t enough to be good or even very good and certainly not mediocre or just enough to get by. The one sure pathway to prosperity was excellence.
What was true for organizations in the 20th Century is true for individuals in the 21st Century. Success is not achieved by being loyal to one’s employer or by knowing how things get done inside an organization. It is not assured with years of experience or even with a knowledge of the current state-of-the-art. What produces sustained career advancement in today’s world of work is a commitment to personal excellence.
It is what drives the alpha career athlete. He or she is “in search of excellence.” They are on a quest to become the champion inside them. This is not some quixotic adventure, but rather an entirely rational determination to express and experience the talent with which they (and all of us) were created. Alpha career athletes believe that, just as every company can achieve superior performance, so too can they. And they’re resolved to do so.
Companies, however, have Peters’ guidelines with which to work; alpha career athletes need something else. They need a set of practices that will engage, refine and unleash the excellence within them. What follows are what I think those practices must be: