A constant struggle to excellence!

Life is a constant struggle, a journey with thousand milestones, momentary destinations, temporary layovers and issues of all sorts. The yearning to reach the final destination is overwhelmingly strong. There also are distractions windy and powerful enough take off-course, pseudo-goals which may overshadow the real objectives and the constant meddling of extraneous factors. Balancing the necessary, important and value-adding balls midair, fighting the cross-winds pushing away from  the original plans and maintaining focus is the art of a determined and disciplined individual.

We all have near- and long-term goals in order to enrich our lives. It is of utmost importance that our goals be derived from and based upon our desires, skills and plans. A fair analysis of these factors helps us project the objectives and goals we aim to achieve.

In the subsequent stage, a culture of self-discipline, dedication and diligence is at the core of converting these goals into actions. A brutally honest analysis of current conditions, with the hope to prevail in the long run, is the key here. Management knows this notion as Stockdale paradox, named after James Stockdale whose story of self- perseverance as a prisoner of war (POW) during Vietnam War explains the degree of endurance human spirit can take him to. The Stockdale paradox says that you must retain faith that you will prevail in the end AND you must also confront the most brutal facts of your current reality.

Once these actions start yielding the results, it’s only relevant to introspect over the performance in the light of hindsight actions. An honest analysis of this will help modify and upgrade desires, skills and plans taking back to square 1! This is a cyclic process and needs constant monitoring.


Given below is an excerpt from Jim Collins’ famous book, “Good to Great” which puts this into perspective, with an analogy of a flywheel, knows as “The Flywheel Effect”, the amassing phenomenon of human effort and ensuing success.

“Picture a huge, heavy flywheel — a massive metal disk mounted horizontally on an axle, about 30 feet in diameter, 2 feet thick, and weighing about 5,000 pounds. Now imagine that your task is to get the flywheel rotating on the axle as fast and long as possible.

Pushing with great effort, you get the flywheel to inch forward, moving almost imperceptibly at first. You keep pushing and, after two or three hours of persistent effort, you get the flywheel to complete one entire turn.

You keep pushing, and the flywheel begins to move a bit faster, and with continued great effort, you move it around a second rotation. You keep pushing in a consistent direction. Three turns . . . four. . . five . . . six. . . the flywheel builds up speed. . . seven. . . eight. . . you keep pushing. . . nine. . . ten . . . it builds momentum. . . eleven. . . twelve. . . moving faster with each turn . . . twenty. . . thirty. . . fifty. . . a hundred.

Then, at some point — breakthrough! The momentum of the thing kicks in in your favor, hurling the flywheel forward, turn after turn. . . whoosh! . . . its own heavy weight working for you. You’re pushing no harder than during the first rotation, but the flywheel goes faster and faster. Each turn of the flywheel builds upon work done earlier, compounding your investment of effort. A thousand times faster, then ten thousand, then a hundred thousand. The huge heavy disk flies forward, with almost unstoppable momentum.

Now suppose someone came along and asked, “What was the one big push that caused this thing to go so fast?”

You wouldn’t be able to answer; it’s just a nonsensical question. Was it the first push? The second? The fifth? The hundredth? No! It was all of them added together in an overall accumulation of effort applied in a consistent direction. Some pushes may have been bigger than others, but any single heave-no matter how large-reflects a small fraction of the entire cumulative effect upon the flywheel.”


Excellence is not an option for exceptional: it’s how they function, it’s how they are made to function. Being exceptional might be remarkable in itself; however, pursuing the goals with utmost diligence, unwavering discipline and fastidious details is something we all can work upon. The results may vary but not necessarily based upon inbuilt brilliance but surely the level of hard work put in.

To conclude, we need a religiously sincere approach towards our goals – always promising less and delivering more – with a conviction that we’ll prevail in the end; that we’ll come out of all the problems stronger than before. We need to keep the flywheel spinning no matter how small the heave; it is all these large and small pushes together that provide the motion to our life’s flywheels!


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