Some time back I saw the movie The Pursuit of Happyness with Will Smith. It really inspired me to strive for excellence. While the movie focuses on the struggle of a young black man, the underlying theme was really a search for fulfilment of the protagonist’s dream. The character, Christopher Gardner, succeeded because, in all things, excellence drove him to success. It was a lesson the adult Gardner continuously reinforced to his young son, Chris.
Excellence, besides being used as a noun, is an action word. It exudes hard work and striving against the odds in life. Greek philosopher Aristotle once said, “Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.”
As a young 2nd Lieutenant, I quickly learned that there are many ways to solve a problem or execute a command. We all approach problem solving differently. The striving for the result creates challenges in the execution. The same goes for any worthy pursuit in life that gets us to our end goal. The issue with seeking excellence is focusing less on the end of the journey and more on the journey itself. How do we get there? For my solders, any implementation that accomplishes the objective is perfectly okay. For myself, the quality of implementation determines the level of success that follows. The optimal solution is what I strive for.
Excellence, as Aristotle pointed out, is the process of choosing the optimal application that maximizes the end results to the benefit of all involved. But to achieve excellence in whatever manner of work we must accomplish, “good enough” falls short of the level of achievement required to excel. The pursuit of excellence is not so much about the goal but more so of the implementation that gets us there. Excellence pays attention to details, strives for perfection, emulates great accomplishments, has a win-win perspective.
The challenge for the multifamily community, is to provide a level of excellence, not only to the level required by industry standards, but to exceed that level and become the place to go for renters within the industry. So how does one move average results to the level of excellence? The priority in the step towards achieving excellence is getting the motivation refocused. As I mentioned previously, the things that motivates most organizations are (1) high intention, (2) sincere effort, and (3) intelligent execution. Let me point out that poor execution impacts the previous two dramatically since those two deals more with focus and motivation. Effective and focused execution then is foundational to the formula for bringing a company to the level of excellence. Peter Drucker pointed this out exceptionally in his article Managing Oneself.
One should waste as little effort as possible on improving areas of low competence. It takes far more energy and work to improve from incompetence to mediocrity than it takes to improve from first-rate performance to excellence… Energy, resources, and time should go instead into making a competent [company] into a star performer.
Organizations should adhere to Aristotle’s advice in this constant changing world environment where what worked before no longer applies. Only by implementing highly intentional and intelligent execution, with sincere and transparent effort, can all who put forth the effort towards excellence achieve it.
The same applies to leadership and to newly acquired tenants. Tenants reflect the apartment leadership mindset and get a high level of motivation by associating with the multifamily community they are part of. On the other hand, disenfranchised tenants rarely focus on internal apartment management initiatives, nor do they have pride in the complex where they live. An apartment is merely a place to “hang their hat” after a long day. Moving these individuals toward a cooperative endeavor of pride and excellence within their living community then starts with leadership, both at the management level and within the community tenants live in.
Excellence, per Will Durant’s viewpoint, is a repetitive lifestyle behavior and mind set. It is “what we repeatedly do, therefore excellence is not an act, but a habit” (The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the World’s Greatest Philosophers (1926) by Will Durant). I totally agree. Great people do not ponder how to achieve. They achieve because they think and do things that cumulatively result in achievements. Apartment management staff succeeded because they implement a daily and repetitive behavior and mindset. They achieved because they internalized the thinking and habits of daily focusing on tenant needs and service. They truly care about tenants and are passionate in supporting the community within. The outcome is excellence and over achievement in status and ratings.
In my current civilian role, excellence is a way of life. Meeting customer goals is not a manner of competitiveness but one of striving for improved achievement in what we, as individuals, do every day. Excellence is an ingrain habit that propels a company to achieve global results. After eight years on the job, I have come to realize that excellence, in the military or private sector, is the result of conscious and passionate efforts repetitively implemented to achieve stated goals. The standard for measuring excellence comes from repeated experiences and acquired skills, from reflecting upon past failures and successes, from lessons learned and improved upon, from meeting our next challenge with renewed intelligent execution.
I had the opportunity to visit my brother for a family reunion. During my visit I observed the network he
had implemented in his condo home. Basically, he used the Apple Plus Assistant® API to control all aspects of his environment. It was fascinating and eye opening as to the level of Artificial Intelligence (AI) that one could use in smart apartment implementation. It made me wonder as to how far in AI will we eventually get in our daily lives. By a simple command of “Hey Siri” I could listen to smooth jazz or turn on a ceiling fan. I could ask for a specific movie or turn down the thermostat a couple of degrees. Really amazing! What impressed me the most was the driving logic behind the home automation. It allowed me more time to focus on meaningful tasks.
So, what does this have to do with excellence? In a way, the Multifamily industry is striving for excellence in implementing lifestyle automation. AI and voice assists like “Siri” are but tools towards achieving this. This thought suggests the question of whether AI can be cognizant enough to provide what we humans wish we could achieve –the pursuit of excellence in quality living. Like the television series, Star Trek, all want a level of quality existence where the issues of life are no longer survival challenges.
While we may not achieve utopia today, we can improve one individual at a time by pursing excellence in all that we do and think. That is the challenge we must all confront and embrace as individuals and as coworkers within our corporate environment. Our intentions, our efforts, our execution will determine how noticeable the action word “excellence” is perceived by our tenants, our customers, our friends and neighbors, our coworkers. As Aristotle has stated, “choice, not chance, determines your destiny.”
The pursuit of excellence starts with the word “excel.” One definition of excellence is “the quality of being outstanding or extremely good.” To excel, one must achieve above the norm. In other words, normal outcomes do not gender excellence. If excellence does, per Aristotle, require a deliberate and intelligent execution — then it stands to reason that all achievers must achieve through a conscious and deliberate effort. Excellence requires
thoughtful focus. Successful multifamily management teams have an inner vision that drives them to excellence in achievement. They do so because the vision within forces them to consider the daily choices they make.