The Performance Continuum

27 Oct

I was going to start off by writing ‘The worst thing you could do is want to be good at something,’ but I decided against it because that, in fact, isn’t the truth.  There are plenty of things I just want to be good at.  I don’t want to be the best piano and saxophone player in the world, but I do want to be able to play them fairly well.  I don’t want to be an Olympic runner, but I do want to be in good shape.  So that’s not a good example, because we can’t be world-class in all that we do.  It is unrealistic and trying to do so would take a lot of the fun out of life, I believe.

However, when you find something that makes you happy and something you want to do for your life, there is no other way to go about it but striving to be the best.  What does it take to be the best, then?  Being the best is a combination of a lot of things – natural abilities, applying what you learn, being mentored by the greats, etc.  But the biggest thing is striving for perfection.

One of the most influential scenes in any movie, for me, was in ‘Remember the Titans’ during the championship game when Coach Boone tells his players at halftime to play their hardest, and “win or lose” they are still champions.  Julius, a star defensive player on the team, interrupts the coach and says: “No, it ain’t Coach. With all due respect, uh, you demanded more of us. You demanded perfection. Now, I ain’t saying that I’m perfect, ’cause I’m not. And I ain’t gonna never be. None of us are. But we have won every single game we have played till now. So this team is perfect. We stepped out on that field that way tonight. And, uh, if it’s all the same to you, Coach Boone, that’s how we want to leave it.”

Julius was right when he said that none of us will ever be perfect.  That is fine.  But the only way to maximize our potential in this life is to strive for the unattainable perfection.  We reach for what cannot be reached and, in doing so, we climb to heights we never dreamed imaginable.

When it comes to restaurants, it is imperative that everything we do is at a level ‘above and beyond’ what others are expecting and hoping for.  My friend and mentor Alan Wong once told me that, “The restaurant industry is war.  You have to win the war to be successful.”  The only way to win the war is to go above and beyond in everything that you do and always striving to reach that level of perfection.  The first step in being the best is wanting to be the best.  The second step is doing everything to the absolute best of your ability and always striving to step your game up to the next level.  It’s about never settling, always striving, never wavering in your pursuit to be the best.

The final thing to realize is that ‘good’ is the enemy of success.  Too many times we do something well and then settle at that level.  We don’t push harder to become great; we don’t go above and beyond.

Whether it is in a restaurant or not, when you set your mind to something make sure you go above and beyond to reach where you want to go.  Always strive to be the best and never give up until you get there.

 


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