“Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the LORD; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the LORD, and I will not keep anger for ever” – Jeremiah 3:12  

The book “In Search of Excellence” by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman” was first published in 1982. In it there were lessons from America’s best run companies. Amongst the principles it espoused was that Excellence is a journey and not a destination. Indeed, one may say that excellence is never achieved since there is always room for improvement. In science this implies perpetual efforts to advance the frontiers of knowledge and in business this implies perpetual efforts to achieve high levels of productivity. High levels of productivity imply greater profitability which energises the business on the journey to sustainable success.

The basic unit of excellence is associated with an individual and it is the collective effects of these units of excellence that impact on society. We must therefore focus on the development of people – our most important asset.

Last week I was invited to sit on a panel at an international conference on the theme ‘Caribbean Curatorship and National Identity’, held in Barbados, and which was mounted by the Museums Association of the Caribbean. I had to re-read the email to see if it had been sent to the right person. Having partially convinced myself that the organisers had a reason for inviting me, I conversed with the author of  the email and I was ultimately persuaded that I should make a contribution at the conference and indeed that the interaction could be mutually beneficial.

I proceeded to prepare my presentation on “The Creative Economy” where I argued that the creative industries could be included in the “sunrise” industries espoused by the CBET Shepherding ModelTM to replace the traditional sectors, “sunset” industries, which no longer make the same contribution to development as hitherto.  The feedback was good as was captured in an email from the person who invited me “your presentation was spot on and was brought up by many an artist at a later discussion as an opportunity to develop entrepreneurship and business planning”. Those were comforting words and, besides, I made some international contacts which I shall have an opportunity to follow up soon to our mutual benefit in the context of developing the creative economy for the many creative types who formed the core of the participants at the conference.

This experience set me thinking and it was during a “creative industry” client meeting later in the week that I made the connection.  The value of culture to the development of the human being was paramount in the search for excellence yet art, music, fashion and the like are not taught in schools as an essential ingredient to nourish the individual to his/her full potential but rather as some sort of “optional extra”.  We pay attention to self improvement in many ways but not in the context of culture.   We must pay attention to our cultural being.

We know about the value of exercise which improves our energy level and it also helps us to stay healthy and fit. We could try swimming, walking, running, massaging, yoga etc. Exercise can be a great way to look better and feel better about yourself.  We know about diet and its value to keep our various organs alive and well. We must pay attention to our physical body.

We know about the value of learning – we read books, watch documentaries, attend classes and workshops. We are never finished learning and by learning something new you improve your mind and yourself. We must pay attention to our intellectual being.

Little by little you will improve yourself and your life. Learn from your past- look back on your past mistakes and try to understand how not to repeat them. It is important to learn from your mistakes so that you can evolve and improve yourself. A mistake is not really a mistake if you learn something new about yourself from it. Don’t try to be something that you are not-value yourself for who you truly are inside. Don’t be obsessed with being someone else like supermodels, celebrities, and famous people. You will never improve yourself if you aspire to be someone else. You need to stay true to yourself and your values and ethics. We must pay attention to our emotional being.

We must improve our outlook on life- in order to improve ourselves. You must first improve the way that you view yourself. Self esteem is essential to feeling good about yourself. We must practise positive belief systems such as good relationships, self-confidence, security and ambition. We must reject negative emotions such as anger, fear, worry and guilt – they induce stress and may make you seriously ill.  Improve the way you act around people- You should try to be nicer, and you will receive that kindness back in return. It will also help you to have a more positive attitude overall. If people view you as a nice person then you will radiate a positive energy and people will want to be around you.  Set small goals for yourself- improving your self takes time. You need to set small goals for yourself so you are not overwhelmed and feel a sense of accomplishment. We must pay attention to our spiritual being.

Hopefully, these ideas with help you discover the path to excellence.