The Pursuit of the Excellence, conclusion

In Part III, Ryan Hawk wraps up The Pursuit of Excellence by reminding us that excellence is a lifelong commitment that takes time. Excellence is slow, destruction is fast. To truly be excellent, be prepared to put in the reps consistently for years.

“Great things take a long time and bad things happen quickly. Rome wasn’t built in a day and Hiroshima was wiped out in seconds.”

Chapter 7: Making the Commitment

1. “Opportunity is not a lengthy visitor.” Be prepared to take advantage of these moments by intentionally meeting with mentors, increasing your lateral thinking through adjacent studies and reading from a wide range of sources, and regularly getting outside of your comfort zone through challenges.

2. Play the long game with growth: follow your genuine curiosity, build meaningful relationships, and understand the skills/knowledge needed for where you want to go, and begin developing those skills now.

3. To build an excellent career, stand out and speak up. Be the best at your role, put in time and go the extra mile. And talk about what you want and where your interests lie to fully understand opportunities around you. Share your goals.

4. We are all a work in progress. The difference between the ones who are sustaining excellence and those who are not is that they know mistakes and experimenting is part of the process, and they embrace it. Be purposeful about stretching your edges, remember that failures mean you’re on the right path, study rigorously and lean towards a bias for action.

5. Expect change and yearn for it, view is as an opportunity to grow and distinguish yourself. “The more you allow yourself to accept that change is inevitable, the more likely you are to change intentionally and adapt.”

6. Be the hero (not the victim). Be a good investment. We become ridiculously successful by making others absurdly successful. Lean towards action with initiative to start moving, tenacity to overcome roadblocks, and infectious enthusiasm to be a valuable member on your team.

Chapter 8: Building Your Band

1. Pursuing excellence is a team sport. Are you creating a craveable reason to return? (Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams)

2. Begin with trust. “If you have an opening bid of trust, the best people will be attracted to that, and it will serve as a magnet.” High performers are repelled by people who don’t lead with trust or instead rely on an ‘earn it’ mentality. Trusting others builds momentum.

3. Chose acceptance, forgiveness, ownership and responsibility to find freedom. If your problems create problems for others, you won’t get very far in life. (Stoicism / Ed Latimore)

4. Practice generosity, humility and vulnerability. It breeds trust, credibility and followers. Be self-aware of your imperfections and give others grace for theirs.

5. Be intentional about positivity. Smile. Positive energy is contagious and inspires confidence and credibility. It is high-octane fuel for an organization.

6. The simplest way to build trust and show respect for others’ time is by being punctual. (George Washington) Allow room between meetings and buffer time for driving. Always honor the present – start and end meetings on time.

7. Listen with your eyes, focus on others and distill what you hear and repeat it back to engage teams and ensure people feel heard.

8. Find your Junto – the group of peers that meet regularly seeking to improve and grow, from a variety of interests and backgrounds. People who meet with the purpose of helping each other and bettering themselves. (Benjamin Franklin)

Chapter 9: It’s a Lifelong Pursuit

1. “I’ll continue to climb trying to reach the top, but no one knows where the top is.” Excellence is about the lifelong pursuit of improvement. Acknowledge and correct your mistakes, prepare tirelessly, become a shokunin (craftsmen who performs his/her best for the wellbeing of others) and find new ways to improve. (Jiro Ono)

2. True mastery kills the ego and breeds humility. Masters keep their mind open like a beginner and are willing to entertain different ideas and consider new perspectives without the boastful validating nature of an expert. They are aware of how much they do not know.

3. Personal mastery is something you do, not something you possess. The journey is the reward.

4. Create systems to ensure you are learning something new every day. (Teddy Roosevelt) Regularly distill what you learn and share it with others. Consistent repetition is key.
Use the Feynman process: (1) Choose what you want to learn and write down everything you know about it, adding to it over time. (2) Teach it to a child. (3) Identify your gaps – ‘What am I missing?’ (4) Organize, simplify and tell a story.

5. Don’t be afraid to step back to move forward. Don’t shy away from change. (Chris Holtmann)

6. The effectiveness of your attempts to chase excellence will be impacted by the health of the relationships you build along the way. Foster healthy relationships through sharing a group meal and diving into deeper questions.

7. Surround yourself with people who are willing and able to give you candid feedback, but don’t mistake all the noise and chatter from those in the cheap seats for insight from your chosen personal board of advisors (Brene Brown) “If you choose to do anything of significance, people will talk and write about you. Never get too high from the praise or too low from the criticism.”