In October 2012 seven scientists were convicted of manslaughter by an Italian court. The scientists failed to adequately warn citizens before a 6.3-magnitude earthquake hit central Italy in 2009. 308 people were killed. Those convicted included some of the most prominent and internationally respected seismologists, including the former head of the national Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, Enzo Boschi.
The court verdict was severe. I don’t know anything about predicting earthquakes, but the court obviously had an expectation of excellence that these scientists did not meet.
A standard of excellence is not one of the trademarks of our society today. We put up with shoddy workmanship, half truths, and subpar performances.
Dr. John Gardner in his book Excellence writes “the society which scorns excellence in plumbing because plumbing is a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity, will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.”
Excellence is never an accident! It is a mindset and a lifestyle which we must practice every day. There is an old saying in sports that “practice makes perfect.” Coach John Wooden said that was not true. He said what is true is “perfect practice makes perfect.” If you don’t practice correctly you don’t play correctly.
One of my favorite quarterbacks was Joe Montana. He performed at an unbelievable level of excellence. ESPN ranks his performance in Super Bowl XXIV as the best of any quarterback in Super Bowl history. One sports writer explained how Montana had such a near-perfect Super Bowl game. The reporter had attended the pregame practice sessions on Friday and Saturday. During those practice sessions, Montana practiced perfectly. He was disciplined, methodical, and focused. In the two practice sessions he did not have a single incomplete pass. He demanded excellence for himself and his teammates. The 49ers beat Denver 55-10, (and Denver had the top scoring defense in the NFL that year) and Montana has his 3rd Super Bowl MVP. Excellence is never an accident!
Excellence is something we have to work on every day. If you refuse to accept anything but the best, you will get it more often! There is a huge difference between nearly right and exactly right.
Paul writes, “So that you may surely learn to sense what is vital, and approve and prize what is excellent and of real value…” (Philippians 1:10 Amplified) “Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8 NLT)
Excellence is never an accident. It happens when we progress each day in focusing on excellence in all things that we do. Someone has said, “The road to success is not doing one thing a hundred percent better…but doing a hundred things one percent better.”
Most of us will never have our work evaluated like the seismologists in Italy, but we must always pursue excellence in the work we offer to God.
Excellence is never an accident!