Practice makes… Excellent

The COLLECTIVE LEADERSHIP COMPASS distinguishes three roads to INNOVATION. These are Creativity, Excellence, and Agility. This post looks at the aspect of EXCELLENCE.

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


When I was still at school, I never had difficulties performing well – and I mean well, not excellently. I made it my habit to set the easy goal of “do well” but not “become the best”. That worked until I learned a craft – joinery. The moment of revelation came when I noticed that it makes sense to cut a piece of wood exactly in the middle of the thin pencil line, because only then would the pieces fit together perfectly.

Good craftsmanship is about that sense of perfection. We feel it when we see an old piece of furniture where all the joints still fit tightly. It takes love to get to that level of perfection and it creates justified pride in the heart of the craftsman (or woman). We strive for the perfect cut, not because other people will appreciate it, but because we feel this is the way it has to be. It is a matter of honor. It is about mastery. We owe this perfection to the piece we are creating.

The experience changed my attitude toward quality. I now understand that high quality is an inherent possibility of whatever we create; lacking quality is dishonoring that possibility. It has nothing to do with getting praise. Have you ever noticed in great artisans that excellence and humility belong together? That is why excellence is a mind-set. Delivering the best possible quality is a way of honoring life. Looking out for the best expertise, the best people, the best knowledge is an obligation, a commitment to serve, because with high quality we enhance the generative force of life.

InnovationThis blog post looks at the dimension of INNOVATION and zooms into AGILITY in the Collective Leadership Compass. For more information on the Art of Leading Collectively, checkout the inside the book and  reviews on, or get inspired by an on site course that takes the compass into the daily challenges of navigating complex change.

Categories: Spotting innovative solutions.

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