By Harish Bhat*
J.R.D. Tata, who served as Chairman of the Tata group for several decades, described excellence as aspiring for perfection in whatever we do, in any task however small it may be, and never being satisfied with the second best.
That is a fitting description indeed, and is a theme that is always reflected in the lives of successful leaders, many of whom are our role models today. Steve Jobs pursued perfection in every single part of every device that his Company Apple created, which created the foundations of an extraordinary enterprise that we regard as an epitome of excellence today.
So did Howard Schultz in Starbucks, Ratan Tata in the Tata group, Richard Branson in Virgin. So did Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. As they led their nations through tumult and towards freedom, they pursued their goals to perfection, and thus rose well beyond the ordinary to script legendary stories of success.
To pursue and achieve excellence, however, there are six very important themes which all graduating students gathered here today must always bear in mind. I call these the “Six Ds of Excellence.”
Dream: You must dream of what excellence and perfection mean to you, in your careers, in every job that you will soon be assigned to do. Unless there is a dream or a vision, however personal, big or small it may be, you will never have a horizon to move towards. Therefore, create your own dream.
Dare: To excel requires courage, it requires guts to rise above the ordinary, and tell yourself, I am made of different stuff, I will take the big leaps required even if there are risks and uncertainties involved.
Detail: Detailed planning, detailed execution is the backbone of excellence. No leader or manager has reached the realms of excellence without attention to detail. Without detail, your dream is mostly doomed to failure or mediocre progress.
Dedicate: You must dedicate yourself to your dream, even if it initially appears impossible and fraught with several odds. Dedication will always help you cross the toughest hurdles you will face, because it builds within you the strength and steadfastness of purpose, the natural urge to immerse yourself completely in every element of your work.
Do: You must commit yourself to doing, to an agenda of action which is aligned to your dream and the detail. Excellence comes from doing, not from ideation or planning alone. Excellence is about translating your dreams into initiatives on the ground, and implementing those initiatives superbly.
Deliver: Finally, you must commit yourself to delivering outstanding results. That is the true measure of excellence, and that is the ultimate lens through which the world will view your achievements.
Here’s somebody who embodies the philosophy.
Harish Bhat is the CEO & Managing Director of Tata Global Beverages and the author of Tata Log- Eight modern stories from a timeless institution. * This is an edited version of a speech delivered by him at the IBS Business School Bangalore.