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The Pursuit of Excellence - Part 6

Spotlight on Education

The Pursuit of Excellence – Part 6

 The focus of recent articles has been the pursuit of excellence in education. The pursuit of excellence is a worthy goal in any endeavor in life. We’ve also discussed the underlying values that are so important in this process. These values includeintegrity, commitment, passion, truth, courage, and teamwork.

Several years ago, I heard a presentation on excellence delivered by a national known motivational speaker, Les Brown. The major points of his presentation seem appropriate for our on-going discussion of this topic. Mr. Brown defined several principles for excellence that could be applied to any endeavor, and certainly to the education of students. I will take the liberty of using Mr. Brown’s principles and make application to the subject at hand. His principles are as follows:

Purpose – If a number of people were asked, “what is the purpose of a school?” undoubtedly a variety of responses would be received. The essential purpose of every school is to provide each student with the skills and knowledge needed to be self-sufficient, successful adults. Most parents want their children to become intelligent, responsible adults who possess the knowledge and quality of character to live a happy, rewarding life. To achieve excellence on an individual level, a person must have a declared purpose, a plan, an agenda for life.  

Passion – The possibility of achieving life’s goals is enhanced with a good dose of passion. Teachers and administrators with passion are able to make a way to help students even in the face of great challenge. They have a belief an absolute faith that their efforts will yield positive results for students. The passion of these educators is seen and felt by their students.

Plan – Achieving positive results in life’s pursuits is rarely an accident. A plan is required. In education, a plan to assist students with individual needs and challenges must be followed in spite of restrictions, limited funds, politics, or any other barrier. The banner reads – “We’re going to do it no matter the odds!”

Performance – You don’t get in life what you want, you get in life what you are. What are your strengths, weakness? A reflective student or educator will always be working on a process of self-assessment. What do you need to work on? The stakes are raised beyond a personal or institutional comfort zone. In order to do something you’ve never done, you’ve got to be someone you’ve never been. A process of re-invention - life-long learning. Caring, dedicated educators model life-long learning for their students.

Persistence – the ability to come back from defeat. Going on even when the wind is knocked out of you. Coming back again and again even when it is unpopular.  The pursuit of excellence demands persistence. Winston Churchill once said, “Courage is the capacity to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.”

Perseverance - Not surrendering, staying power, finding away to make it happen. Snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. No excuses, you must persevere. You must be willing to pay the price for what it is you want. The achievement of any worthwhile goal will require perseverance, and it will not be easy.    

Prayer – Work as if everything depends upon you and pray as if everything depends upon God. Prayer takes the friction out of living. The pursuit of excellence has a spiritual dimension. The achievement of great results will invariably yield service to others.

In summary, Les Brown’s seven Ps certainly apply to our discussion of the pursuit of excellence. The education profession provides a great opportunity to be of service to others. Educators who demonstrate a passion for excellence impact their current students with the potential of positive influence for generations to come.