Basketball Coach John Wooden, known for his success as a coach and for his short, powerful quotes about winning on the court and winning at life, once said,
“Make Everyday Your Masterpiece.”
We all want to accomplish great things in our lives and feel that we’ve created in the world. We may have started moving towards a goal or dream that we’re excited and passionate about completing. No matter who we are, the initial excitement of our pursuit will eventually wear off. The exuberant start eventually transitions into the slow and arduous climb.
So, how do we stay motivated and energized during, as best-selling author and leadership coach, Micheal Hyatt, call the “messy middle” of any goal or dream? We can follow John Wooden’s advice and decide to pour our best, most creative energies into the moments that may feel the darkest and the most mundane. Instead of just surviving each day, we can choose to make each day our greatest work and our most astounding masterpiece.
It’s in the daily grind, the challenges and the perceived failures that we can birth our greatest ideas. It’s where we turn aspirations into physical plans and then learn the lessons needed to eventually succeed.
If you knew that the choices you made today would shine to all of the world, how would you live today differently? If you knew that the life of your dream depended on how you acted today, where would you place your focus and attention?
I recently read the story of Howard Schulz and how he took Starbucks from a small Seattle coffee supplier to a multi-billion dollar business. One of Howard’s hallmarks was the powerful vision that he held, or his ‘Why.’ His ‘Why’ was to deliver one of the finest quality coffees in a way that it became an experience for those purchasing it. He envisioned the creation of gathering places that were an extension of the front porch where baristas knew their customers intimately and customers could feel a sense of belonging. He also bucked the corporate trend by creating a high sense of employee loyalty with some of the best benefits in the industry. He created ownership by making each employee a partner in the company. Howard made every Starbucks location one of his masterpieces ensuring that they created the same level of quality and service whether it was in Seattle or Tokyo, Japan. He built a multibillion dollar company by focusing on excellence ‘one cup at a time’ and one individual at a time, both customer and employee. And, regardless of the pressures of growth, he held relentlessly to the vision of excellence that had propelled the company to greatness in the first place.
Howard Schulz made every day his masterpiece by always acting from his ‘Why’ with the understanding that every action was important and every location made a difference in a positive or negative way. Like Howard, we can develop a powerful, motivating ‘Why’ and then approach each task from the perspective of that vision.
As we choose to approach each day with an attitude of excellence, we can understand that there is a difference between excellence and perfectionism. When we strive for excellence, we pour our best selves into the person or the event knowing and trusting that we’re making a difference even if we aren’t necessarily recognized or rewarded for it.
Aristotle observed that “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit. Each project that we complete can be our personal best at that moment. As we make it our personal best, we will continue to grow into our next personal best.
How we choose to start each day is generally how we will finish it. So, get up and make your bed. Even the smallest wins are moving your towards magnificence. If you aren’t sure what to do next, take the action that is right in front of you regardless of how menial and mundane it may appear.
Each choice is a another stroke of our brush on the canvas of our life. We can choose to simply float along with little purpose or direction to our work.
And, if your efforts so far have fallen short of excellence, know that there is always a second chance to turn it around. No where is this better exemplified than by the nationally known ‘Daves Killer Bread’ company, advertised as the “Best Bread in the Universe.” Dave Dahl was the son of a baker. While he was very creative and showed initial promise in following his father’s footsteps, Dave became caught up in illegal drugs. Dave’s criminal record progressively grew, and he eventually spent 15 years in prison.
At over 40 years old and wanting a second chance, Dave contacted his brother who was the owner of the family bread company, and asked if he could work for them. While working at the bakery, Dave developed an idea for an organic bread that he took to a local farmers market to test. It was a hit. Dave continued to grow his reach until Dave’s Killer Bread became available in all 50 states and is a Costco favorite.
But, the most unique part of Dave’s Killer Bread is their philosophy of hiring ex-convicts who would have no other way of obtaining employment and would likely end up back in the criminal scene otherwise. Over 30% of Dave’s Killer Bread’s workforce are those who have once been incarcerated but who want to turn their lives around. They are now part of an operation that strives for excellence each day in making some of the best bread in the universe.
Will our work today simply be a trivial pursuit or will it be a defining statement? It’s really not difficult to choose excellence in our work today. It just takes a motivating ‘why’ and a desire to make every action count no matter how small, mundane or menial it may seem.
by Reuben Aiton, CEO of Ignited Ideas, LLC