Striving for Excellence



My day-to-day work is focused on music education. At a recent meeting with other local arts and culture organisations, we discussed how we might use the Arts Council’s quality principles to help us evaluate and improve what we do in our work with children & young people.

The seven quality principles are:

  1. Striving for excellence and innovation
  2. Being authentic
  3. Being exciting, inspiring and engaging
  4. Ensuring a positive and inclusive experience
  5. Actively involving children and young people
  6. Enabling personal progression
  7. Developing belonging and ownership

In considering which of these resonated with me personally, I was drawn overwhelmingly to number one – striving for excellence and innovation. It seems to me that attempting to do the other six to the best of your abilities would mean that you were indeed striving for excellence and innovation. Conversely, I’m not sure you could claim to be striving for excellence and innovation without covering the other six.

Success is a choice

Why not strive for excellence in everything you do? Is there a better option? Do any of us truly wish and hope to one day be okay, or mediocre, or average?

I firmly believe that excellence, innovation and success are a choice. The day you commit to excellence, your entire world changes. Your philosophy is a guidance system which informs your decisions and actions, and therefore the results that you bring about. In addition, if you choose to aim for excellence, you will be far more motivated to continue in spite of obstacles because you have a clear vision of what could be possible.

How you do anything is how you do everything

We are creatures who are ruled by our habits, and our habits are formed and strengthened through repetition. It is a mistake to think that we can cut corners in preparation, and then excel in performance. The good thing about this is that any time you try do anything to the best of your abilities, it has the potential to affect all other areas of your life.

To distil this all down to it’s core I think the key questions we need to continually ask ourselves, and then act on, are:

  • How good do I want this to be?
  • Is my current attitude/activity going to achieve this?

For those interested, here are a couple of suggestions for further reading:

Success is a Choice – Rick Pitino

The Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg

As ever, tweet me your thoughts @dfrancisdrums. Use the hashtag #excellence