The Path from Competence to Excellence

Recently in a thought-provoking article, Daniel Burrus describes techniques for growing from competence to excellence in one’s career (“Mastering the Art of Your Career,” Burrus Blog).

At a key point in the article Burrus affirms, “The nonstandard educational method of developing intuitive insights coupled with creativity involves gleaning the best-kept secrets and most well honed, time honored methods, the knowledge and wisdom of your profession from other professionals.”


Of course, upon re-reading, it makes sense. How then to make it real and accessible?

While peeling fresh peaches the other day, it hit me. Paths to excellence are all around us. For excellence in peach peeling, it was my grandmother who showed me, watched me, coached me and gave me lots of opportunities to practice.

For excellence in working, paths have been friends willing to listen, to be candid, to offer ideas (not answers) and to ask questions that made me think: try new things: keep practicing. The best of these teachers have not been in my field or working in my organization.

As Burrus challenges: “You can learn the science of your job from books, manuals, and classroom lessons … you need to learn the art from the artists of your field if you’re going to become exceptional. … It’s what pushes us to compete with others by bettering ourselves and in doing so, to push our very professions forward.”

  • Who are your excellence coaches?
  • How do you share what you know and learn with colleagues and new employees to help them grow toward excellence?
  • Will you be a path to excellence for others?