Business: The Pursuit of Excellence

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pursue excellenceMy father is a retired fighter pilot of the United States Air Force. He now works for Boeing and while he is no longer a pilot, he still works with the same character and strength he always has. His life, everything he has done and will do, is best classified as the pursuit and discipline to achieve excellence. The pursuit of excellence is not to obtain perfection, but to encourage a standard we should hold ourselves and each other to; small business relations are no different. To succeed in business and with each other, striving for excellence will develop humility, foster responsibility, inspire, and reward.

There isn’t a simple way to define humility or apply it to this particular subject. This is because humility should be learned on both sides; employee and employer. The only way to learn it is to put personal emotion and insecurity aside. As we go about our days conducting and operating business, the desire to do well and be successful can cloud our good judgment and common sense; we put ambition before each other and in the process we erase the moment for self-thinking and decisiveness and put in its place, greed and self-importance. We cannot sacrifice quality for selfishness. Companies are a collective unit and together, as a team, we should push for excellence.

Responsibility in business is a tricky subject. When I worked for past employers I wanted to blame them for my poor disposition at work. I attributed my lack of motivation and accomplishment to their poor leadership skills. My excuse was that because I worked for them, they were directly responsible for whatever failure I experienced. In truth, I did not go to work for them. I went to work for myself. Company owners and personnel… we work for ourselves and for each other. Companies can get lost in feeling that they provide for everybody. In truth, companies are the platform in which people are able to exhibit their own creativity and organization. Companies provide the framework for people to encourage one another and develop accountability. Personal responsible is exceptionally satisfying and invigorating. As individuals, it is the reason we try so hard to be good at what we do.

The pursuit for quality is heavily rooted in inspiration. To be repeatedly inspired invigorates a person to try again and again. In small business, people work closely together, and the drive for success can be intimidating. Even if a company is prospering, the ability stay current and fresh is a daunting challenge. To get past this barrier, let past accomplishments be your tireless inspiration toward the pursuit of excellence. For example, we have a young man named Jose that started learning how to climb trees about a year ago. It is an ambition laden with self-doubt and intimidation; trees are formidable and powerful. The men had him start with small trees. With their encouragement and instruction, he eventually moved on to more physically demanding and time intensive tree work. The men’s patience with Jose while he learned taught him discipline and presence of mind. It is this same discipline that makes him good at what he does and in turn, he is inspired to continue to educate himself in his work and exceed his own expectations of himself.

Proper reward in business isn’t always in the form of money. Companies should reward their people with respect and trust. In doing so, they will encourage loyalty. Loyalty promotes strong character and reinforces personal responsibility. Ironically enough, an employee’s loyalty and trust in the company they work for is the company’s own reward.

These four factors cannot be misrepresented and should be taken seriously in every discipline in life and in business. Personally, these are principles that we apply in our own business and our hope is that these factors will build upon each other and, in turn, set precedence with our clients in the form of strong workmanship and quality people.

Last modified: April 11, 2013
Nikki Hall
Nikki is the co-owner of Aspect Tree Service in Alexandria, VA. Learn about her business at

This story is part of our Small Business Corner, a peek into the life and trials of small business owners.

Category: Insider's perspective, MPR Authored, Small Business, Small Business Corner, small business owners, startups, Tips