Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, we plug along in our professional lives, providing for ourselves and those we consider dear. Throughout the average individual’s lifespan, it is estimated that they will work nearly 90,000 hours, or 10 years while operating under the assumption that they can create heightened levels of life satisfaction by increasing their financial gains. Unfortunately, for those who think material possessions, financial wealth, and professional status will bring them happiness, either making no commitment to true business excellence, or a misguided one, leaves them with unwanted feelings of emptiness. While it is certain that business excellence must be the aim, it is for reasons beyond the ones we typically think of. Abraham Maslow, one of history’s most celebrated psychologists, shed light on this truth when he told us:
What a man can be, he must be. This need we call self-realization.”
Of course, social status and material wealth are nice byproducts that come from pursuing professional greatness, yet the purest form of business excellence presents itself in different ways. Seeing that throughout your life you’ll spend over 3,500 days of awoken time on the job, it’s imperative to commit yourself to uphold the highest professional standards. It is certain that individuals who don’t make the right kind of commitment to their work, regardless of the field or industry, remain unsatisfied with themselves at the core of their being. While the following five components of business excellence will certainly be easier to carry out for those who are passionate about their work, they should be considered the true measure of professional success for all.
Always Prioritize Quality Over Quantity:
In today’s fast-paced economical environment, it is easy to assume that whatever path brings the quickest amount of revenue is the most logical one to take. For many, this means sacrificing the quality of their performance, production, and work-related relationships with the goal of generating the largest number of products, sales, and consumers. While increasing revenues to the maximum possible levels by sacrificing one’s commitment to business excellence may seem attractive, it’s inevitably a bad idea. Regardless of if you are a senior executive at a Fortune 500 company, an employee at a small business, or an entrepreneur just starting out, you must commit yourself to provide the highest possible quality in every area of your professional life.
There are a variety of reasons, for both large corporations and individual employees, why quality will forever triumph over quantity in the professional world. From a purely business perspective, making the all-important commitment to quality helps to ensure customer satisfaction and naturally boosts the reputation of companies. Over the long term, the businesses that offer the best quality services and products will see sustainable growth, much of which comes in the form of consumers leaving the companies who are solely worried about the quantity of sales. Additionally, businesses that commit themselves to quality over quantity enjoy fewer operational and consumer-related issues, which adds up to saving both time and money in a big way. Milton Hershey, the founder of Hershey Chocolate Company, told us of another important benefit of prioritizing quality over quantity:
Give them quality. That’s the best kind of advertising.”
For individual employees and entrepreneurs, committing to quality over quantity is a rule that should similarly be followed. Not only will committing to this component of business excellence increase your sales, professional resume, and ultimately income, but it will also ensure that you waste as little time as possible correcting the work-related mistakes that you may make. Furthermore, it is only by making the commitment to quality over quantity that individuals can ensure complete satisfaction with themselves.
Work Smarter, Not Harder:
While it may be easy to assume that following the recommendation of prioritizing quality over quantity means an over-the-top commitment to tirelessly working, the truth is that it doesn’t have to be this way. By simultaneously making the commitment to working smarter, instead of harder, both businesses and individuals can find the most efficient ways to increase productivity, production, and sales. Although you or your company may currently operate with great expertise, true excellence comes when individuals commit themselves to continuously seeking new and better ways to approach business endeavors.
Because the world’s overall economical and technological landscapes are evolving at immeasurable rates, companies and individuals must commit themselves to find and utilize the most proficient technologies and up-to-date business trends. This means that it’s imperative to place great importance on researching and testing the seemingly countless ways that businesses can become more effective and efficient.
For the companies that don’t make this commitment, it is inevitable that they will eventually be passed up by those who are using the newest professional tools and organizational models. Additionally, although it may be assumed that it is best to keep your business practices private, companies and individuals can benefit greatly by creating an open dialogue with competitors in a way that increases the capabilities of whole industries.
What working smarter and not harder largely comes down to is an unceasing commitment to education and professional growth. From a business leadership perspective, it makes too much sense not to offer employees educational opportunities funded by the company, as this will increase both organizational capabilities and employee satisfaction. Even if the investment is steep, companies can reap the rewards of continuously educated employees who, when allowed, bring new and innovative ways of doing things into the organization.
From the perspective of an individual, working smarter, not harder, means making a career-long commitment to professional growth by continuously working to reinvent their business acumen, communication skills, leadership capabilities, and financial savvy. As Jim Collins, the Author of Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t, puts it:
Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice.”
Move Beyond Solely Monetary Aims:
Over the past ten years, there has been an ever-growing push for companies to switch their focus from solely monetary gains to a triple bottom-line accounting approach. Obviously profit margins will forever remain critical in the corporate world, but by showing equal importance to environmentally green business solutions and giving back to the communities they work in, companies can separate themselves from their competitors. If consumers are given the option to buy an equivalent product or service from two different companies, one of which is committed to the environment and greater global community, which will they choose?
The triple bottom line accounting approach was developed by author and entrepreneur John Elkington in 1994 and is based upon the assumption that true business value and excellence need to consider not only the financial prosperity of companies but also their social and environmental impact. In today’s world, where global warming and human suffering are more prevalent than ever before, it is morally imperative that we begin working with a for the greater good mindset. Moreover, the triple bottom line becomes especially important when we consider that our business success is completely dependent upon the environment and people that all too many neglect. Travis Engen, a man who has enjoyed an extraordinary amount of business success at a number of different companies, tells us:
We know that the profitable growth of our company depends on the economic, environmental, and social sustainability of our communities across the world. And we know it is in our best interests to contribute to the sustainability of those communities.”
While it is probably easy to see how the triple bottom line is the morally right approach to take, there are additional hidden benefits that come when organizations operate this way. By focusing on this component of business excellence, companies assuredly will see enhancements to their reputations, improvements in their relationships, an increase in employee satisfaction, and an overall healthier organizational environment.
Understand the Importance of Balanced Living:
The fourth component of business excellence is approaching professional endeavors with an appropriate understanding of the importance of work-life balance. Stress statistics in the United States show that one in three Americans consider themselves to be extremely stressed, much of which comes from their professional work, and it is due to this same tension that three in four doctors’ visits are considered to be stress related. Although work is important, it is just one component of life that we need to balance in order to enjoy the highest levels of happiness and fulfillment.
Organizationally speaking, by continuously monitoring the stress levels of their teams, upper management can get the most out of their employees working hours. In addition to monitoring stress levels and giving employees an appropriate amount of time off, leadership can also increase company-wide productivity through activities such as team building and stress education.
From the perspective of individuals, it should be quite clear to see why it is important to live with an appropriate work-life balance. While success, income, and status are perks that come from business excellence, it is vital to remind ourselves that our own happiness and life satisfaction are more important than these things. Much research has recently looked into what makes individuals happy, and it is probably unsurprising to learn that it isn’t the monetary benefits of work that do, rather it’s individuals’ relationships and life experiences.
If true business excellence is what you want to pursue, you’ll have to find an appropriate balance between work and life, or else you’ll remain unsatisfied with yourself at the core of your being. As the master of motivation Zig Ziglar once put it:
I believe that being successful means having a balance of success stories across the many areas of your life. You can’t truly be considered successful in your business life if your home life is in shambles.”
Pursue Business Excellence with Integrity:
The last component of true business excellence is an unwillingness to conduct your professional life with anything but the foremost levels of integrity. Those who take shortcuts in their professional life, behave unethically, and deceive customers or clients with unfair prices, will be forever remain unable to live with complete satisfaction. If you think about some of history’s greatest fraud stories, such as Bernie Madoff and Enron, you can’t imagine that those involved ever truly felt happy with themselves or the money they were ‘making’.
By committing yourself, or your business, to the highest levels of integrity, you can ensure your feelings of self-esteem are legitimate as they will be built on true business success. To make this commitment means refusing to take the easiest path, treating your bosses, coworkers, and clients just as you would want to be treated, and putting organizational goals ahead of personal acclaim. Frank Perdue, the man who built Perdue Farms into one of the most successful chicken-producing companies in the United States, tells us:
If you believe in unlimited quality and act in all your business dealings with total integrity, the rest will take care of itself.”
As we now wrap this article up, the hope is that two things are now clear. First, to enjoy the highest levels of life satisfaction, and ultimately fulfillment, you’ll have to commit yourself to pursue nothing but the purest forms of business excellence. Second, it should be apparent to see how the pursuit of business excellence is based upon the foundations of favoring quality over quantity, working smarter instead of harder, moving beyond solely monetary aims, committing to a balanced lifestyle, and handling all of your dealings with the foremost levels of integrity. We’ll now leave you with a quote from legendary NFL Football coach Vince Lombardi:
The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.”