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Excellence

I’ll start with the definition google gives for the word; “the quality of being outstanding or extremely good.” I just like the sound of that phrase, ‘extremely good’.

This following piece is an extension and elaboration of my notes from a keynote I attended today, given by professor Terry Orlick. He’s a Canadian expert on excellence and seemed a really nice and cool guy. I could perhaps write more about him after I have attended the workshop he’ll conduct in a couple of days. For now, the talk.
The talk, the title saves you from using your deduction skills, was on excellence, or basically being good at what you do and living a life you want to live. So for a slacker like me who is consciously aware of his sorry life, such talks are godsent because they give me motivation and kill my lazy ass. It does come back eventually but I take what I get. 5 days lived well are better than zero days lived well and somehow there is this nagging and unwavering belief that someday, somehow the fire is not going to go away. Someday.
He started by stating the importance of living to one’s potential. The following are the things one can do to get themselves onto the path of complete potential utilisation.
Choose your best focus
Stay fully connected to your goals
Be positive and supportive to yourself
Choose to fully live your life
Choose to pursue your dreams
Choose to embrace the simple joys in everyday
Though these points are insightful and educating and they make every kind of sense but the thing he said that really put me on a different plane of thinking was when he talked about focus. Before that let me run you through the slide on the various aspects of a positive connected focus.
Commitment
Mental readiness
Distraction control
Confidence
Positive images
Ongoing learning
The observation that made a lot of sense to me was this; we can choose to be unfocussed because we can afford it, we do not have a huge price to pay, or if we do, perhaps it is not immediately tangible but in some contexts being unfocussed can cause a lot of harm; for e.g. if you are an astronaut in the middle of your spacewalk, you cannot exactly lose focus or if you’re a thoracic surgeon in the middle of a surgery, you don’t have the kind of leeway that allows you to be unfocussed. Your only option is to stay focussed. A lack of focus in that context can actually lead to death.
I apologise if sometimes the things seem unconnected and random, although despite my best attempts at obtaining the opposite effect, my lack of writing practice (and general mediocrity) might slip through and show.
Some times things happen which are not expected, which are not under your control, which can take you down and keep you down; but down is a place you need to find your way back from. From my personal experience I can add that ‘down’ is a place where you think about your past too much, you think about you mistakes too much and you focus on your negatives too much and it makes you into this person who looks like he’s given up the fight and now just wants to drift through life. Professor Orlick touched on negative focus later.
To live a more fulfilling life he emphasised the importance of keeping a journal. I had come across this advice before, a lot of times but keeping a journal, although sounds deceptively simple, is a little more complex than it is given credit for. People like me do not have an idea what to write once the diary is open in front of you and nobody really went into details as to the ‘How’ of keeping a journal before. i remember listening to a motivational speaker once, Jim Rohn he touched a little bit on the topic but not in the detailed manner it was dealt with today. Professor Terry called it a highlight journal, wherein you write the highlights of the day and suggested that one can touch the following things while writing one’s journal.
Human Interaction
Nature
Relaxation
Accomplishments
Positive Sensations
Personal Discovery
Play/Physical Activity
I think I missed a point or two, but well, you get the whiff.
The striving for excellence begins with reducing the time you are..
Distracted
Upset
Negative
Stressed
Disconnected
Less than your best
And increase the time you have a positive connected focus on your life which means increasing the time you are..
Reflecting
Listening
Seeing
Feeling
Playing/Performing/indulging in fruitful action
Reading
Learning
Loving
Enjoying
I mentioned negative focus before, how it eats you up and keeps you down. Professor Orlick said that one cannot avoid one’s focus turning negative but what one can do is divert it back to the positive things. I heard someone mentioning, not in the same address but somebody else’s speech on the same day that negative thoughts have a lot more emotional element than positive thoughts, or to put differently, negative thoughts are easier to remember and process because negative emotions are easer to feel. I do not know if this statement has an empirical basis but it makes a lot of sense for me. There are things we can control and there are things we cannot control, if we focus on the things we cannot control, we’ll eventually fail and nothing is a more powerful magnet for negativity than failure; so we’ll be better served if we focus on the things we can control.
In a drive for a positive focus we need to focus on the reasons as to why we can complete our mission; besides the why, needless to say, we need to focus on the ‘how’ of completing our mission as well.
The journey to a positive outlook can be tough, and i have personally on multiple occasion felt that I am too hard on myself, every time i do something i should not have or fall short of a goal i think about it for ages and let it affect my present. One should focus on supporting oneself, one should appreciate and love oneself above everything else. One should strive to look for the positives and embrace them
Looking at what one has already accomplished and focus on what could possibly be the next positive action one could take.
“Maybe yours is not the best life on the planet but it is a lot better than a lot of other lives.”

‘DOCIDE’ Focus on action rather than planning. Thinking/Knowing/Deciding is not enough.

THE 6 R’s
Find moments of silence to –
RELAX
REST
RECOVER
REFLECT
REGENERATE
REJUVINATE

I will end this little summary with a little something he said in the middle of his speech, something really obvious and mundane and still extremely profound and under-appreciated.

“If you do not like the path you’ve chosen, you can change your path, you’re not locked on.”

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