Excellence is the next 5 minutes. Or not.

Most creative-minded founders or makers are constantly embarrassed of finishing or sharing their work because they perceive it as “incomplete.”

I’m guilty of it in the past as well. I would always push the deadlines around until eventually I got exhausted trying to meet my “perfect” mark and totally give up on the project.

I figured the fix for it recently.  And thought I should share it with you guys.

Answer: Don’t chase perfection. Chase excellence.

Now if you look up the word “perfection” in the dictionary, you will see it being defined as the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects.

Flawless? This is already an impossible demand.

Perfection is a far-off mythical magic land where there are no flaws or defects. Well, I honestly think no creative work would ever be shipped if the makers were chasing perfection as their goal. Would Mona Lisa be qualified as perfect? Would Apple Macintosh be on that list? Would Harry Potter make the list?

However, the dictionary defines excellence as: the quality of being outstanding or extremely good.

Even better is how Tom Peters, the famous business management author, defines it:

“Excellence is not an aspiration. Excellence is the next five minutes. Or not. “

How amazing! Excellence is about little things done right with utmost care and passion.

Excellence is within your control. It doesn’t take a genius to chase excellence.

Fall in love with doing. Get 1% better every day. Do every task with the same passion, pride and care.

CONRAD HILTON, the founder of Hilton Hotels at a gala celebrating his career, was called to the podium and asked, “What were the most important lessons you learned in your long and distinguished career?”

His answer: “Remember to tuck the shower curtain inside the bathtub.”  

The little things. Anyone can aspire to improve the little things and ship constantly.

I’ve written over 700+ blog posts and I am yet to come across what I would call a perfect blog post of mine. But what I can point to you is what excellence looks like.

When we chase excellence, we are chasing the “doing” instead of the deed. You try to get better 1% at a time. You focus fanatically on the little things to improve that are fully within your control. You improve your work ethic without a worry about the outcome.

In Tom Peters’ words,

EXCELLENCE is  not a “long-term” "aspiration.”

EXCELLENCE is the ultimate short-term strategy.


A popular spiritual phrase in India comes from the Hindu book Gita which loosely translates to an important life lesson: “Never seek the comfort of idleness or inactivity yet when you do a certain task, never be attached to the outcome either. Do it for the love of doing.”

The chase for excellence is the only rewarding pursuit for a creative individual. The only scorecard that matters is internal.