Seeking excellent results requires excellent self awareness and introspection.

I recently asked the Krav Maga Houston teams to answer three questions in an effort to better support growth and progress throughout the Krav Maga Houston schools.

While I asked three questions, I’m focusing on one question today as a means of exploring how every team might consider framing the quest for excellence at any school virtually anywhere.

First, consider the question I posed – “What do you need to be excellent?” Don’t get me wrong, the Krav Maga Houston teams are at times excellent (and have the capacity to be excellent consistently). Instead, my question was posed to help me understand two critical issues: (1) What support might be needed to help facilitate excellence, and (2) How much self-awareness, initiative, and introspection does each team member currently embody in seeking excellence? In other words, does each team member recognize that his/her achieving excellence is entirely self-driven? Or, who has an internal locus of control, and who has an external locus of control?

To illustrate the point, I’m going to take common answers to questions like the one I’ve posed (I haven’t reviewed my teams answers yet). For instance, if you tell me you need more time with teachers/mentors, my questions to you would be, “How well do you utilize the time you have currently with mentors? What preparation do you undertake prior to meeting with your mentors to ensure you optimize the time? What extracurricular efforts do you consistently pursue outside regularly scheduled Krav Maga training? What objectives, goals, and milestones have your set and shared with your mentors? What are your weakest skill sets, and how are you working to resolve these issues?”

The list of question could go on and on. The point is clear. While expert resources are vitally important, the use of those resources is far more critical. For example, individuals with limited access to expert resources and the drive to become excellent will show up prepared and ready to optimize their time with those resources. Consider high level, world-class hackers from the former Soviet Union (and other Eastern block countries) where access and bandwidth can be limited. These would-be hackers show up ready to exploit any exposure to code and expertise they might encounter (and, as you might guess, practice frequently to enhance their skill sets). Others that confront non-conventional, context specific obstacles, such as a double amputee climbing Mount Everest, set the bar for excellence and shut down our collective list of excuses. The bottom line is…if you want it, you can work to take it.

My favorite response (sarcastically speaking) to the question of excellence is one where the team member responding essentially creates the argument that for him/her to be excellent, the people around them must achieve excellence. This answer embodies the external locus of control and totally abdicates leadership elsewhere. Excellence is an internal/personal issue – even in upstream/downstream dynamics. The respondent worldview is centered on the idea that everyone else is the problem (not the person responding to the question) and is a dangerous perspective where massive blind spots in personal performance can become crippling to any team.

Ideal responses to the question of excellence include a focus on self – where the respondent correctly cites issues such as organization, effort, efficient use of resources, developing new skill sets, and/or personal leadership as the keys to excellence. In other words, the respondent shoulders the responsibility of any failure to meet the excellence standard and develops a plan to address his/her performance going forward.

In the end, if you’re seeking excellence, you will also attract others seeking excellence (including mentors) to rally to your cause. If you, instead, choose to join the majority of the population in building the collective façade of excuses and abdication of personal leadership and excellence, you do so at your own risk.

Finally, if you’re building a team, you must first start with individuals that see their results as a deeply personal reflection of individual and collective performance. Do this, and your team will thrive.

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