The Epiphany at the End of the Tunnel

When we last visited our intrepid blogger, after trying to convince a friend to care about work (see “A Confession With a Moral”), he began blathering about how a meeting reminded him of a funny auditor which reminded him of battles over semicolons which reminded him of passion which then reminded him of the previous post and something else he decided he wanted to say (see “Thoughts During a Meeting”). Put another way, we left our blogger with things slightly confused and the readership (all two of them – including the one he calls “Mom”) deciding this might be a good time to permanently switch to one of the other blogs. 

Thanks for hanging in there (particularly since I’m a week later than promised). It is time to move on to my lightening bolt of inspiration. While I believe that everything I said in the first of these two posts was correct (how bad habits established during bad times can infuse the work you wish you could do when times are good), something bothered me about the way I was saying it. And the meanderings of my subsequent post helped me realize what the problem was. I was trying to deliver a positive message, but doing it from a negative premise; trying to drive inspiration from the hardship of another. I was trying to make a point about “quality of work” while chastising someone for not living up to a standard that I never, really articulated. Let’s get that straight right now.
The crux of the biscuit, the nub on the corn, the beef in the briquette (are these mixed metaphors making anyone else hungry?) is this: Excellence in all things at all times, starting right now.
Okay, I admit it. I’ve been reading Tom Peters again; in particular a synopsis of his new book The Little BIG Things. (You need to read it, too. I was lucky enough, early on, to get a full copy of the synopsis. You can still get parts of it on his web site at the Free Stuff section. By the way, you can do many more types of wrong than to peruse and borrow from other items on that web page, not to mention purchasing the actual book.)
Now, I know there are a bunch of you out there who make faces when you hear Peters’ name. Some grimace because they see the hype and “typographical nonsense” and the superlatives and believe a mighty wind is blowing. To you I say (nay, I scream), “Get over yourselves!” Then there are those who smirk saying, “What can a marketing huckster like that have to say to an internal auditor?”, then laugh derisively knowing that internal audit is much more important to the company than any marketing efforts. In your case, I first shake my head in disbelief, then I scream (nay, I bellow), “Get over yourselves!!” (To both, I have some more things to say/scream/bellow – but this is a family professional blog.) Let me just add, to one and to all, ignoring the lessons that any other discipline can bring to our profession will ultimately lead to our obsolescence. But that is really a rant for another day.
Let’s get back to that concept of “Excellence”. When I was talking to my friend, the message I should have given him was to ignore the bad situations; ignore the lousy projects; ignore the fools and slings and arrows around you.  The only way you can have true pride in yourself is to challenge yourself to achieve Excellence in all you do. (Yes, I believe there are people out there who get along fine without such pride – the kind of people who slide along doing the least possible to achieve their brand of success. I am not speaking to them. In fact, I do my best to try and avoid them. You see, Excellence is also about partnering with those who wish to achieve Excellence – again, another rant for another day. And allow me to quickly add that my friend is not one of those slackers.) As long as you practice the achievement of Excellence, you will never have a reason to be ashamed. The actual practice of Excellence in all you do is key to personal satisfaction and success. 
Well, I’ve managed to bandy that word Excellence about quite a bit. But what the heck do I really mean when I use it? In fact, if we are going to make Excellence a point of our personal pride, then we better put some meat around it, lest it become just another buzzword. To accomplish that, I want to take a closer look at what Tom Peters has to say on the subject.
However, I’ve gone on a bit just getting to this point. So, let’s take a break. And I promise, next Wednesday, I will continue these thoughts on Excellence and what it means in the everyday life of an internal auditor.

Posted on Sep 13, 2010 by Mike Jacka

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  1. Hi Mike.  Just a few comments.

    - Excellence is the reason to do anything. If not your best, why bother.

    - Peters I would argue is an execution guy. He just markets himself well.

    - What's wrong with Marketing? I agree get over ourselves. Internal Auditors have one of the tougher marketing jobs - selling an intangible product, often to an unwilling client, and the success may be that nothing happens. We prevented or mitigated a bad business outcome.

  1. Hi Jeff.  Not surprises to see you weigh in considering you're the one that, all those years ago, really introduced me to Tom Peters

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