The Long-Haul of Excellence

Now that you have found what you are about it is time to settle into a rhythm of excellence.

Of course, you already know about excellence on a lot of levels, it is after all what got you to where you are today.

I am pretty sure that you are well versed in taking risks (the right kind of risks), are familiar with discipline and an ability to focus who you are (your particular skill and heart) to that thing outside and beyond yourself. And I am quite sure that you have worked to put many things behind you, laid at the sides, rested in bygone days; you are ready for all the future might hold for you.

So what do you do now?

It is not often said but settling into a routine of success is hard work. For years we have thrived on the chase, the challenges, the hard work to get to this spot. And all of a sudden we see our years laid out before us with the very thing we most longed for; we are simultaneously profoundly glad to be where we are and just a little bewildered about how to take those skills that got us up the mountain and use them to keep us on the mountain.

It is a new kind of work. A new kind of effort. A new kind of skill required.

Do you have what it takes?  Here are a few things I have learned about the sustainability required to invest deeply for years to come.

1. Vision 

We must reconnect with the vision that got us to this point. What is it about this time and place and people and your role that got you fired up in the first place? Recall to heart and mind the point of it all. What is the passion and the longing in your gut that got you here?

This same thing, will keep you here. But only if you recall and keep good records, so to speak. Make a marker, bring to mind, recall regularly, revisit your core honestly.

Invest in something that reminds you. It doesn’t matter what it is. Maybe it is a tangible thing that you hang on your wall or put on a shelf, maybe it is time set aside, perhaps a journal kept, or journal’s revisited. Whatever it might be for you invest in something that you keep before you to remind you of why you do what you do.

Though it may never seem like it, the work can wait, the work must pause in fact, for you to celebrate and recast vision in your own being. This is a must if you want to go the long haul. Celebrate the vision that drives you. Do this regularly, as often as you need.

2. Resources 

The tools required to get you to the mountain are not the same that you need on the mountain. Getting up the mountain meant a lean pack, strong legs, and a nimble heart, staying on the mountain requires excellent products, good people, and a grateful heart.

On the mountain you must slowly build your resources with the long haul in mind. No longer are you leaping or sprinting or dodging. Now you are standing and striding and resting.

This requires a few key things that feed your soul. You are giving out to so many others. You are in charge of big projects. You carry a lot of responsibility. And you are glad to do this. You’ve been trained to do this. You are equipped to do this.

You, to maintain your strength in all this, must remain well fed. Invest in yourself as a leader. Don’t shrink back from doing for yourself those one or two things that you know deep in your gut that you must do to sustain the work and your heart in the midst of the work.

For some it may be a regular day off just for you. For others it may be beauty in some form. You might be nurtured by a good view, by silence in the early mornings, by two hours daily set aside in creativity of crafts, or writing, of painting,  building, or gardening. Whatever it is, make it happen. Do not shirk on the care you give yourself. There are too many people depending on you.

3. Good People 

It cannot be repeated often enough: take care to ensure you have good people around you. Really good people. Don’t skimp here, don’t make concessions, don’t make excuses for the people around you. Surround yourself with quality individuals and all manner of strength will be yours.

This begins with you. Be a person of generosity and you will find generous people around you. Be a person of integrity and you will find integrity in the people round about. Be strong and solid in what you know and you will be blessed by others who bring strong and solid to you and the work you are doing together.

Do not fall into the trap that you can continue forward on your own strength. You need good people around you, people who will challenge you, people who will ask hard questions, people who will bring out the best in you.

Good people are those who are investing themselves in the work. We look for heart, will and risk. A lot of people have a lot of heart for what we do. Each of us have those cheering for us. This, of course, feels good. But don’t be fooled. Cheering never accomplished anything!

Be respectful, acknowledge their enthusiasm, but if you want to get any work done, those projects accomplished and any kind of lasting influence, work and invest yourself in the people who are offering themselves as a solution to the problems that your work is there to solve. Do not waste your time or energy or personal focus on people who are not willing to co-labor beside you.

4.  Clarity 

This brings us to clarity. To go the long haul you must have clarity about many things.

Getting up the mountain, for instance, required certain kinds of co-laborers. Staying on the mountain will require another kind of people. There will always be a few who journey with us through the climbing and the staying, but only a few. Know this, and make distinctions, establish standards, really press yourself to identify and to clarify the kinds of people that really help to carry the work.

Additionally, the goals and processes for staying on the mountain, for going the long-haul, are different than what it took to get you there. What are those differences? What skills were needed for the mountain climb? What skills are needed for longevity and sustainability over many years?

Literally, sit yourself down with pen and paper in hand and take 30 minutes to answer these questions. Brainstorm with yourself, press yourself to think deeply, to understand more fully, to gain the clarity required for your future. You won’t get there otherwise.

Clarity also demands that we know our personal strengths and our weaknesses. You cannot do all you are required to carry. Putting yourself out there and following through to get to the place you are today has required you to learn new skills, to bear a birthing and burdens that stretched you and challenged you and strengthened you, bringing you to today.

From here on out, allow others more gifted than you to carry the work you cannot do. Be clear about what these things are and what they are not. Know yourself, all the good, the bad, and the ugly. As you know, self awareness is key, absolutely key. Have hard conversations with yourself and everything else becomes easy.

5. Limitation

Society in general has taken this word limitation and made it dirty. But leaders know that limitation is our greatest strength. Leaders know that to make light into a powerful tool it must come under extreme limitation by which we have a laser, a tool that works miracles  once never imagined.

The longevity of your particular influence, the depth and the breadth of your work will directly reflect your ability to come under limitation, to use limitation and to make it your best friend.

Limitation requires self-discipline. Constrain yourself and find a profoundly impactful life. For those with a ton of ideas this means we say a loud ‘no’ to anything that is not directly impacting the core of what we are to be about. We just don’t do many things. We say no.

We say no to ourselves first of all. And we learn to say no to others. Again, respectfully, graciously, nicely, but honestly and boldly and with strength. Be the wall against good ideas and any who might pressure or manipulate you towards them. The more impact and responsibility you are willing to carry, the less you must be about.

Narrow it down. Figure it out. What is necessary? What is not? Eliminate ruthlessly anything and everything that would take you off your game. Use limitation. Come under constraint. Manage yourself well and the work will flow well.

Vision, resources, good people, clarity, and limitation are only some of the things required for longevity no matter what we are about; they are key now that you have arrived at your place in life.

Published by

Cyndy Lavoie

“Then she was on the road. She preached with joyful urgency that life could be radically different; right and left she sent the demons packing; she brought wellness to the sick, anointing their bodies, healing their spirits.” Mark 6:12-13 The Message

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