In ‘The Eagle’s Secret’, author David McNally wrote about a corporate culture that consistently promotes excellence: “Herb Kelleher, head of Southwest Airlines [before his death in 2019], ran the most consistently profitable airline in the United States. With a sense of humour that [was] not merely contagious but virulent, Kelleher [was] surely the most outrageous CEO [of his day]. He [ran] his company with consummate people skills, a nose for cutting costs, and a consistent focus on fun. Kelleher [once] appeared at corporate headquarters dressed as Elvis, and on his planes he has dolled up as the Easter Bunny. When Southwest was named the official airline for Sea World, Kelleher showed his gratitude by painting a plane to look like Shamu, Sea World’s killer whale.
Kelleher’s attitude is [still] reflected in Southwest’s employees. His flight attendants have been known to organise trivia contests and seated relay races among passengers, deliver instructions in rap, hide in overhead baggage compartments, and give out prizes to fliers with the largest holes in their socks. “What we are looking for, first and foremost,” he [once explained], “is a sense of humour. We hire attitudes.”
Does this atmosphere of fun and camaraderie get in the way of efficiency, productivity or profits? No, just the opposite. Kelleher and Southwest have demonstrated over and over that a sense of humour, combined with a desire to contribute, makes for a corporate culture that consistently promotes excellence. As a result, Southwest employees are by far the most productive and most loyal in the industry. Meanwhile, Southwest has grown larger and more profitable year after year. And Fortune magazine recently referred to Kelleher as “America’s best CEO.”“
David McNally, 1998, The Eagle’s Secret, New York: Dell Publishing, p.212
The famous Spanish cellist and composer, Pablo Casals was over 90 years old and he would still practice for several hours a day. When a young musician asked him, “Mr Casals, you are renowned as one of the best cellist players in the world, why is it that you continue to practice several hours a day?” Pablo Casals is reported to have replied, “Because I am making progress!”
Source: The Success Journey by John Maxwell p.99 – also Even Eagles Need A Push by David McNally p.3
The greatest opponent of excellence is the phrase, ‘That’ll-do!’
“Don’t be afraid to give your best to what seemingly are small jobs. Every time you conquer one it makes you that much stronger. If you do the little jobs well, the big ones tend to take care of themselves.”
It’s never crowded when you go the extra mile.
A brilliant concert violinist was asked the secret of her success and she replied with two words: “Planned neglect.” She went on to explain, “Until my daily practice period is completed, I deliberately neglect everything else. I believe it’s my programme of planned neglect that accounts for my success.”
‘Be The Best’
If you can’t be a pine on the top of the hill,
Be a scrub in the valley, but be
The best little scrub by the side of the rill;
Be a bush if you can’t be a tree.
If you can’t be a bush, be a bit of grass,
And some highway happier make;
If you can’t be a muskie, then be a bass,
But be the liveliest bass in the lake!
We can’t all be captains, we’ve got to be crew,
There’s something for all of us here.
There’s big work to do and there’s lesser to do
And the task we must do is the near.
If you can’t be a highway, then just be a trail,
If you can’t be the sun, be a star;
It isn’t by size that you win or fail.
Be the best of whatever you are!
by Douglas Malloch
People are unreasonable, illogical and self-centred;
Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies;
Honesty and frankness will make you vulnerable;
Be honest and frank anyway.
The good you do today will be forgotten about tomorrow;
Do good anyway.
The big people with big ideas can be shot down by the little people with
Think big anyway.
People favour the underdogs but follow only the top dogs;
Fight for the underdogs anyway.
What you spend years building can be destroyed overnight;
Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth;
Give it the best you’ve got anyway! (Anon.)
“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”
Martin Luther King (1929-1968), US Baptist minister and civil-rights leader.
Arthur Rubinstein, the famous pianist, used to say, ‘If I don’t practice for one day I know it. If I don’t practice for two days my critics know it; and if I miss three days my audience knows it!’
Source: Powerspeak by Dorothy Leeds, p.64
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Philippians 4:8 NIV
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might…
Ecclesiastes 9:10 (NIV)
The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement.
Nobody is perfect; but who is this ‘Nobody’ anyway?
“I’m not a perfectionist: my parents were, though.”
“The closest a person gets to perfection is when they’re filling out a job application form!”
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery: So look for excellence and imitate it.
Determine to pay the price and do whatever it takes to ‘make it’ into the top ten percent of your chosen field, and the rewards will be fantastic!
“Every day do something that will inch you towards a better tomorrow.”
“When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.”
– John Ruskin (1819-1900), English art critic and social reformer.
Wherever you go always leave the place better for having visited, and whatever you do always leave things better than you found it.
“Feedback is the food of champions.”
Ken Blanchard, author, speaker
Did you hear about the young lad who went into the local store to use the pay phone. Tommy dialled the number and when the phone was picked up at the other end he said, “Hello, I want to apply for the job as a gardener. Oh! You already have a gardener. Is he a good gardener? Is he doing a fine job? You have no plans to change? Well, thank you anyway.”
As Tommy started out of the door, the store keeper called him back and said, “Don’t be discouraged son. That’s a very commendable things you are doing. You’ll get a job Tommy. Just keep trying.”
“Who’s looking for a job?” was Tommy’s reply.
Rather surprised, the store keeper said, “I’m sure I heard you ask for a job as a gardener.”
“Well, you see, it’s this way,” said Tommy rather embarrassed. “I’m the gardener – I’m just checking in on myself to see how well I am doing.”
Source: Cavett Robert, 1969, Human Engineering and Motivation, New York: Parker Publishing Company, p.107
“The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.”
Dr Norman Vincent Peale (1898-1994), clergyman and writer
“We are what we repeatedly do, excellence then is not an act, but a habit.”
Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) - ancient Greek Philosopher
“Aim at perfection in everything, though in most things it is unattainable; however, they who aim at it, and persevere, will come much nearer to it, than those whose laziness and despondency make them give it up as unattainable.”
Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773), English Statesman and author