With many corporations, small businesses, families and individuals struggling in our current economy, I’m often asked how I’m able to continue to succeed and produce growth in my endeavors. The answer is simpler than most expect. Simple, but not easy.

In times of ‘boom’ it can be easy to let the basics slip as we scramble to take advantage of the wide variety of opportunities that are available to us. Unfortunately, when times of ‘bust’ come, it’s the basics that will determine whether we sink or swim. I’m able to maintain growth regardless of the economic and social climate because I maintain excellence in what I do; in my businesses, my church, my family and my personal life.

There are certain fundamentals of excellence that should be regarded, whether things are booming or not. This is a list of the principles I live by to maintain my level of excellence:

  1. Set concrete goals. Remember any goal you set should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.
  2. Know what you’re aiming for. A goal is hard to reach if you don’t know what it will look like when you get there. If you desire to own a business in a certain field, become an expert! Read every book on the subject you can find. To strive for a goal without understanding it is to waste time, energy and money.
  3. Find a role model and emulate them. Chances are there’s someone that’s already doing what you want to do. Find them, find out how they do what they do. If you don’t have personal access to anyone that fits the bill, you can be mentored from a distance. Get all the books, audio recordings, and video by or about your role model you can. Listen to speeches they’ve given, watch a documentary on how they operate, read a biography about them or their auto-biography. The information you get will be priceless.
  4. Excel beyond the average. Don’t set your standards by your peers in  your community or industry. Look to the top – see how they operate, and set your standard accordingly!
  5. Be mentally tough! Don’t let the news or what anyone says surpress your desires! If I listened to the pundits and the naysayers I would’ve been defeated before I ever started.
  6. Speak success! Talk like you’ve already achieved your goals, whether it looks like you have or not. To some this might look foolish, but chances are they’re not top achievers! The words you say have a powerful effect on what you can accomplish. So when it’s easy, and especially when it’s hard, make sure what you say lines up with what you desire.
  7. Grow up. Maturity is a vital component of excellence. Know your faults, and work on correcting them. Receive correction from superiors without having a pity party or a tantrum.
  8. Learn from your mistakes. This is a principle that we all know, but often don’t follow. It’s easy to sweep an issue under the rug. If you don’t deal with it though, it will always come back. Problems we don’t address, we’re doomed to repeat. When problems arise, find a solution and change your system so it won’t happen again.
  9. Never stop learning. A know-it-all attitude is a sure way to grow stagnant. I constantly read: books, magazines relevant to what I do. There is no new success without new information.
  10. Pay attention to the details. There’s a saying that “the devil is in the details,” but when you plan the details effectively, you can produce miraculous results. If you’re in business, chances are there are many others who offer the same services or products that you do. What will set you apart? The answer is often in the details. Find creative ways to “wow”  your audience – whether it’s one customer or an auditorium full of people.
  11. Be a problem-solver. When I encounter an obstacle, I never panic or get distraught. I am often energized because I’ve trained myself to be a problem-solver. I spring into action, writing down solutions and figuring out ways to make things work. If you find yourself complaining about everything that’s wrong, stop immediately and start developing solutions.
  12. Seize success! Excellence is not for the faint of heart. If you are going to succeed and set a new standard of excellence, you are going to have to do it aggressively. Tough times create new opportunities and tough people sieze them. That person can be you. You and your organization can rise to the top. Be excellent and go after suceess with everything in you. There’s room for you at the top and excellence can carry you there!

Signed, Dr. James Pierce