I have been trying to reach individual excellence for many years. First, I had no idea what individual excellence is or how to achieve it. I tried to reach individual excellence unconsciously at first. I was not calling it ‘trying to achieve individual excellence’. I called it simply ‘personal growth’, but my deepest motivation wasn’t just to grow. I wanted to grow and know where I am growing and how fast. Then I named the state where I want to grow – I called it Individual Excellence. After I had the state named, I needed to figure out what does it mean.
What would Individual Excellence be if you wanted to define it? What would be your process to get to such a definition?
My process to define Individual Excellence was quite long and complex and analytical at the end. I got inspired by many authors, philosophies, religions, psychology literature, observing life and other places. I like philosophies of Buddhism, Stoicism, Christianity and life philosophies of many authors (Stephen Covey had the biggest effect). In the end, I chose a more analytical approach (start with the why) and it led me to the following definition.
Individual Excellence is the ability to satisfy all one’s major needs and be excellent in all one’s major roles in life.
If we accept this definition of Individual Excellence, the next step to understand it is knowing what one’s major needs are and what major roles one usually has. I researched many systems of needs and consider the one based on 4 aspects the most useful (very easy to remember, apply and pretty complete as checked by comparing with other systems of needs).
Our needs can be clustered into 4 aspects:
- Physical (Body) – Survival, Health, Energy, Money, Activity, Sex, Safety, Freedom, …
- Mental (Mind) – Growth, Mastery, Wisdom, Clarity, Focus, Productivity, …
- Emotional (Heart) – Love, Joy, Relationships, Fun, Connection, Peace, Passion, …
- Spiritual (Spirit) – Meaning, Contribution, Purpose, Conscience, Fairness, …
I don’t think deeply fulfilling all needs is possible at the same time (e.g. passion and peace are quite competing as one involves low energy and the other one high energy). But I am sure that deeply fulfilling all 4 aspects (body, mind, heart, and spirit) is possible and that almost everyone wants that, consciously or unconsciously, for himself/herself. I am committed to doing my best towards deep fulfillment of all 4 aspects and it is the basic thought which I want to guide my personal growth efforts and daily decisions.
As of being excellent in one’s major roles, I believe my main roles are: individual (responsible for treating myself well); partner (responsible for treating my partner well); son/daughter/brother/sister/parent/… (responsible for treating my family well); worker (responsible for doing a great job, treating my organization and all organization’s stakeholders well); community member (responsible for treating members of my communities well); human (responsible for treating other people well); living being (responsible for treating other living beings and nature well). I try to do my best towards being great in these roles and I am aware there are (and probably always will be) some non-trivial gaps in my skills, habits and random actions.
In some later article, I will write about how I try to achieve Individual Excellence (the definition of Individual Excellence is not enough to guide me efficiently) and the methodology that might help others too. I don’t think I have achieved Individual Excellence or that I am close to that. But I believe that naming this ‘ideal end state of personal growth’ and following the methodology heavily increased the efficiency of my personal growth effort.
Do you think it’s a good definition of Individual Excellence? Do you agree that it is worth to follow? Do you have some other ‘ideal end state’ for your personal growth?