As the COO of a multinational company, people often ask me about the steps to achieve excellence in life.

In my case, the pursuit of excellence started at childhood with my Grandpa Lee who showed me the difference between a person who surrendered to his circumstances and those who didn’t. With his life, he showed me that a person can turn his life around by the choices they make.

With these ideals ingrained in my mind as a child, I always wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. Seeing someone do better or be better always makes me smile. But I am by no means a perfectionist; I am merely meticulous and a big fan of details, accuracy, and precision.

Then came my learning curve as a single parent. I realised that as parents, we want the best for our children. We want them to be successful, accomplished, and righteous. So, we push them to achieve excellence in life, education, and their well-being.

But what does excellence really mean?

The real meaning of excellence is greatness – to be the absolute best. It is a quality that people idealise because it is not easy to find. It takes years to become good at what you do, even if are you are brought up with the best family values or educated in the best schools. It is the growth and learning throughout your life that makes you excellent at what you do.

In retrospect, I don’t think I am the very best. Because once a person reaches a certain realm of contentment, the growth process stops. But growth is what we need to maintain excellence in life.

A simple step towards excellence is not to compromise in any aspect or be lackadaisical at what we do, however big or small the task might be. In another words being average is not good enough. Once we decide to settle for mediocrity, it will reflect in our work with below average results. And that shows the lack of interest in the work. I always tell my team that if we like what we do, we must show the best work possible, if not – don’t do it and don’t show up.

If you observe some of the high-end brands or the elite class; do you notice why they stand out? It is because of the details. Quality always reflects in the details and that sets them apart from mediocre workmanship. And this is what people pay the high price for – the details – the precision.

The respect we put in the work we do shows in the results. We must be proud to showcase the work we have done so that it shines amongst others doing similar work. This is how excellence will grow in any profession.

Recently I was asked by Ms. Aparna Bajpai, founder of BeingShe and Mrs. India Globe, "What qualities according to you makes an excellent leader?"

One of the most important things for a leader is the ability to grow and extract wisdom through experience. This includes learning how to be humble, how to listen and how to respect others. A leader leads by example, treat others with dignity and respect, creates a culture without division, and becomes a collaborator in everyday life.

But being a leader is not always easy. We need to be consistent, diplomatic, creative yet analytical at the same time.

Leaders need to have integrity, commitment, and ownership. One of the biggest thing we leaders tend to forget is the power of appreciation and gratitude for success. As leaders, we are also leading by example, so when we display appreciation and gratitude, our people will follow suit thus creating more for us. In another words, we as leaders should be cloning ourselves so the world can be a better place.

Leaders don’t just live in the corporate world; there are leaders at home and at school as well. So, when we speak with our children on achieving excellence in life, what we should be doing is showing them the difference between someone who settles for average work and someone who cares about what they do; and that integral action starts from us.

Belynda Lee, a leadership trainer, speaker, and best-selling author, writes on how we can be the best version of ourselves. Visit www.belyndalee.com.