Excellence can sometimes not be enough

By CEO, Peter McDonald

I’m a firm believer of the saying ‘Someone of words and not of deeds is like a garden full of weeds.’ Someone saying they’re going to do something and them actually doing it, are two very different things. In an industry like ours, a finely tuned BS-ometer is a must have.

But there are some whose efforts and deeds just leave all others in their wake – even if those were sizeable. Sometimes an effort can only be appropriately described as ‘outstanding’.

Although there are subtle nuances between the use of excellent or outstanding as an appropriate descriptor, they exist, nonetheless. With submissions for MEA’s 2023 Awards imminently closing, I thought I’d lend a hand in understanding those looking to finesse their entry, or indeed nominate an industry peer for the Outstanding Contribution Award.

While excellence implies a high level of performance, it might be stating the obvious to say that ‘outstanding’ often suggests performance that goes above and beyond expectations. It’s the consistency of exceeding standards or achieving exceptional results that makes the recognition more noteworthy.

For something to be deemed outstanding, it may involve a level of innovation or creativity to set it apart. It might bring a fresh perspective, introduce novel ideas, or offer a unique approach that goes beyond what is typically considered excellent.

An outstanding achievement likely has a more significant impact on its surroundings or industry. It might influence others, set new standards, or leave a lasting legacy.

While excellence can be achieved on any given specific occasion, something outstanding may be characterised by persistent excellence over time. For it is longevity and sustained high performance that contributes to making something outstanding.

Something outstanding might evoke a strong emotional response or connection. It goes beyond meeting functional or practical criteria and resonates with people on a deeper level. External validations can emphasise the exceptional nature of an achievement. Acknowledgement by peers, industry experts, or the general public can contribute to something being considered outstanding. To reference another saying, ‘the higher the smoke, the bigger the fire’.

Excellence pretty much meets expectations, but outstanding often surpasses them. It involves exceeding what people anticipated, creating a sense of surprise and admiration.

And finally, an outstanding accomplishment is more likely to be memorable. It leaves a lasting impression due to its uniqueness, impact, or the way it stands out from the crowd.

So, I encourage readers to second guess themselves in the pursuit of becoming recognised, or indeed seeking to have someone else recognised, as the best of the best. I recommend challenging oneself to ensure the highest possible degree of proficiency is showcased to evidence exceptional performance, innovation, and creativity; impact and influence; consistency and longevity; emotional connection; recognition; surpassing expectations; and memorability.