|Expressions of Excellence
All Their Own
| Here's a Joe Dimaggio story you probably haven't heard recently.
"Joltin" Joe DiMaggio was as fine a baseball player as ever was. A Hall of Famer with a .325 lifetime batting average, the Yankee Clipper, as he was known, set the record for the longest hitting streak in major league history, 56 games! His is a mark that may never be broken. Joe DiMaggio exemplified excellence.
Late one season, in a year the Yankees were already a cinch for the World Series, Joe was banged up. He had bumps and bruises from a season of running, sliding, diving for balls and being hit by pitches. There was no need for him to even be in the lineup, let alone play 100%, all-out in this relatively meaningless game. And yet there he was, taking the extra base on a base hit, sliding into the bag in a cloud of dust.
After the game, a sportswriter asked him why he was playing so hard in such a meaningless game. Joe looked at him and answered in all earnestness: "Because someone might be seeing me play for the very first time!"
That's an expression of excellence!
Joe DiMaggio's pride in his performance, his appearance and in his reputation was paramount. For Joe it translated into never taking a day off. It meant always giving his best performance.
Do you make every performance your best yet? Is your effort on behalf of your company and its clients or customers an expression of excellence? If not, why not?
Some might calibrate their performance to the fee being paid or based upon their feeling toward their manager or the customer they are serving. Yet this would be a mistake. Don't ration your excellence. If you stand for excellence you can't apportion it out in relation to who you believe is watching or based on a presumption that future business or accolades may or may not be stem from such particular actions. Each time out you should strive to express your excellence. That's how to deliver consistent quality.
I frequent Oakland's famed Italian deli, Genova. Behind the counter a half dozen different employees prepare sandwiches and deli plates for the many patrons lined up at all hours of the day. Sometimes Alfredo serves me. While other sandwich makers are fast and matter of fact in their assembly of sandwiches, Alfredo is deliberate, methodical and almost trancelike in his crafting of my sandwich. Slicing the bread, spreading the mayonnaise, placing the onions, cheese, lettuce, and their special oil and vinegar mix, then placing the rare roast beef and combining the faces of the sandwich before precisely cutting my Dutch crunch delight with his serrated knife.
At first I couldn't understand why it took 'Fredo so long to make my sandwich. Then one day I recognized that his making of my sandwich was his expression of excellence. Although it was as transitory as a sand castle, my sandwich was still a piece of art. Its impermanence was irrelevant. Like a bouquet of freshly cut flowers that will soon wither, they nevertheless have their moment in the sun.
In a world of declining quality and diminishing returns, your customers, coworkers and supervisors will recognize, appreciate and reward your expressions of excellence.
Create your expressions of excellence in the little, as well as big, deliverables of your jobs. Go that extra step, give that extra 10% and express your excellence with pride. Double check your work. Build review time into your schedules so there's time to express your excellence. And remember, while someone may be seeing your excellence for the first time, they'll keep coming back for more!