Dynamics of Excellence

In the pursuit of excellence, ever more challenging targets need to be set and then resources need to be devoted to repeat the required process incorporating continuous improvements along with the occasional giant leap, whilst at the same time analysing all associated information and feedback to achieve the desired goal. This repetition must consider, adapt to and exploit environmental factors to maintain sustainability. For excellence to then occur, the process must be ingrained so that it flows naturally utilising the circumstances of the present situation plus the necessary positive emotions without the need for intense concentration or effort.  Therefore, only by harnessing the opposing four forces of Repetition Change Analysis – and The Now can excellence be achieved.

Reviewing each dynamic in detail, the first is Repetition. Repetition,coupled with a lot of dedication is a prerequisite of achieving excellence in any task, skill or process as this strengthens the neural connections that supports the cognitive and motor control. However, purely repeating the same task or activity in isolation will not lead to excellence on its own. A theory by Anders Ericsson states that 10,000 hours of practice will lead to excellence. However, this study actually emphasises that this must be deliberate practice, where the task is repeatedly

performed and small improvements are incorporated. These improvements or changes are normally made as a result of analysing feedback to then alter the process until the required level or outcome is attained.  The process is then constantly repeated until attributes such as control, precision, speed, accuracy, endurance or dexterity virtually become constants. This requires high levels of dedication and initially needs complete focus upon the task to ensure that it is performed in exactly the same manner every time and achieves the desired output. Then, over time the task, skill or process becomes more natural and can be performed with far less mental effort or attention.

The second force is Change and excellence needs to both harness and accommodate this dynamic. When initially performing the task, skill or process, any feedback or results must be monitored so that change can be applied to improve the operations or steps. Also, as more knowledge or expertise is gained, new techniques or principles can be applied. These new developments can then be tested to understand how they affect the output.  This gradual change program is the only way the task, skill or process can be improved until it hits an ‘expert’ level whereupon excellence is achieved. Once this is achieved the adjusted process can then be repeated to reinforce it so excellence becomes consistent. However, for excellence to be sustained the process must also be able to accommodate any external variables that could affect the outcome. If not, any environmental or dependant factor that deviates could have a negative impact and the pursuit of continuous excellence would be disrupted. Also, all the resulting outputs of the process must also be considered and their long term effect on oneself, the group, the organisation and environment. If the results are disruptive or have continuous negative impacts then the resulting outputs will eventually render the original process unsustainable. Change must therefore be incorporated into the development and the on-going process to achieve excellence, and consideration must be given to the effects or harm to the eco-system, the environmental or other human beings to ensure that the process is sustainable.

The third dynamic is Analysis, which must be undertaken during the creation and on-going process of excellence. All viable measurements including environmental factors should be recorded and calculations made to understand the effects incremental changes have on the process. Research and expert knowledge should be sought and incorporated into the analysis with a view to introducing new techniques or variations to the process. Patterns should be identified. Past performances, current outcomes and future possibilities should all be considered including successes, failures or near misses as they are ‘learns’. This analysis should not just include

scientific measurements such as time, speed, length, height, etc but also aesthetic or artistic factors such as rhythm, creative appeal or impression. Orthodoxies should be identified and then systematically challenged to improve ability and embrace new ideas. A balance of complexity with simplicity should be achieved as sometimes less is more. Chaos mixed with order, precision intertwined with randomness should all be evaluated and incorporated into the process as and when appropriate, as sometimes emotional sense rather than complex techniques can be seen to provide progress towards the goal. Imitation or mirroring other processes or similar natural occurrences together with analogies should also be used to benefit the output and improve performance. Only by the constant analysis of all the associated information through an analytical approach complemented with natural, random, creative and artistic influences will excellence be achieved. 

The forth dynamic of being in 'The Now’ is just as influential as the other three forces. Once the correct level of performance is achieved through deliberate repetition and continuous improvement, then excellence can only be delivered if all surrounding factors that influence the process are considered at the exact time of execution. These factors cannot be ignored because they can greatly influence the outcome or level or performance. This could be thought of as becoming one with the situation or feeling the environment. This must be achieved without thinking too deeply and achieving a state of mind where the process becomes enjoyable rather than an effort. Where focus becomes a

mixture of relaxation and attention. Too much or not enough of either of these has a major influence on the outcome. If anxiety, stress or worry are present through too much focus on the results or remembering previous failures then the process may not flow naturally. Likewise, if the correct frame of mind is not adopted which delivers the correct level of energy and attention, then excellence will also not be achieved. ‘Being in the Now’ has to deliver a combination of control, focus, determination, along with a naturally flowing process of mind and body that seems relaxed and effortless benefiting from the exact variables of the current situation.

The four forces of RepetitionChangeAnalysis – and The Now work individually complementing each other but also in direct opposition. Change is the enemy of repetition and analysis is the direct opposite to being in the now.  However, to achieve excellence for the individual, the group, or organisation they must work in total harmony like a musical orchestra . If any one dynamic is missing, ignored or too dominant, then excellence will not be achieved, or it will not be sustained for any period of time.