Being Excellent (#98)

Last month, I gave a presentation to a much smaller group than I had expected. It’s a presentation I have given before to groups of over a hundred; this time, there was less than ten people in the room.

I’ll admit that I was kind of bummed at the turnout, but it’s a topic I’m passionate about. So, I changed the format to be more interactive and gave it my best effort.  The next day, I received a note from one of the attendees who thanked me specifically for “bringing my A-game to a small group.” Another reached out and asked for my help. The effort was noticed.

In a similar vein, a Friday Forward reader, Daniel Gross, shared a story with me about a recent problem he faced with his family’s gas-fired heater. Because it was older furnace, he had purchased an annual service plan through his gas supplier, Eversource. Eversource, in turn, outsourced the service plan to another company who then contracted the actual work out to a local HVAC shop.

On a recent annual check-up, the technician determined that the gas control valve on Daniel’s unit had a slight leak and needed to be replaced; he also suggested that the system be turned off until it was repaired. The weather was starting to drop and, after 5 days of no heat and endless back and forth over the phone, the local company finally scheduled a time to come out and replace the valve (about a $400 item).

A technician came to Daniel’s house with a new part. Unfortunately, it was for a different type of valve – one that was completely incompatible with his system.  Before leaving – without having fixed anything – the technician asked to use the bathroom and then left without flushing the toilet.

After two more days of phone calls to the HVAC company, and still no heat, Daniel was told by the company that they were declaring the furnace obsolete and unrepairable. What’s more, they were voiding the service agreement.

At this point, fed up and frustrated, Daniel called his local plumber, Jason Green. Jason responded that he had the right part on his truck and could fix it the next day. Even though he was incredibly busy and booked solid, Jason showed up the next morning (Saturday, probably his day off) and got Daniel’s heat back on. He also cleaned up after himself.

While Jason was working, Daniel happened to go out to his driveway where Jason’s truck was parked.  Not only was his truck immaculate, this famous quote was written inside the door:

“We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” 

Many think about excellence as an outcome. The reality, however, is that excellence is a byproduct of the many decisions we make each day and how we choose to act in each one of those instances.

Companies are very quick to spend a lot of money on marketing to demonstrate to prospective customers how great their product or service is, rather than demonstrating that with excellence day in and day out. When we choose excellence, others notice.

Quote of the Week

 “How you do anything is how you do everything. Your “character” or “nature” just refers to how you handle all the day-to-day things in life, no matter how small”

Derek Sivers

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  1. Pingback: Breaking Bad (#102) |

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