15 Minutes from Excellence

Posted by & filed under Personal Growth.

egg timerWelcome to the Internet in 2013.

Everyone has a voice now. The gatekeepers have been eliminated. So how do you stand out? It’s not enough to be good. You have to be excellent.

Yet most people never meet a standard of excellence.

They come close. They hit a standard of sufficient or good. Maybe even great. But excellence eludes them, and they fail.

Why? Two reasons.

#1: They have failed to define their own personal standard of excellence.

If you want to create something excellent, you have to make it easy for yourself to recognize what excellence looks like.

How will you know? You have to create a standard.

Here’s the one I have used for multiple decades. Everything I do must produce a “yes” when I ask these questions:

  • Will it help people who are hurting?
  • Will it be relevant 200 years from now?

This one may or may not work for you. If you like it, give it a try. Or add it to your own idea of excellence. Or completely disregard it.

There is no right answer because there is no universal definition of excellence. As a matter of fact, anything that’s excellent is always hated by at least a few people (usually the product of one-star thinking).

Create your standard of excellence. Make a checklist. Then follow it.

#2: They don’t take the time to produce true excellence.

It takes a long time to get from square one to excellence. But it’s sometimes shocking to see how little time it takes to transform something good into something excellent.

Most good ideas or projects are only 15 minutes from excellence. Don’t believe me? Next time you think you’ve created something good, do this:

  • Set a timer (I love using an egg timer) for 15 minutes.
  • During those 15 minutes, focus 100% of your energy on coming up with that one idea that would really push what you’re working on over the top.
  • When the 15 minutes are up, implement that one idea. Immediately.

I’ve seen this yield amazing results over and over, in my own life and in others’ lives. In fact, the cover for the new eBook I’ll be launching before the end of the year was the product of a “15 Minute” session. (Keep an eye out for that, by the way!)

I know this isn’t easy. It’s hard to reach what you think is the finish line only to challenge yourself to run another mile. 

But what’s the point of working hard all day if you are not setting a new standard? Why study if you don’t plan on making A’s?

Is this post resonating with you? Click here to tweet this: Most of the time, excellence is just 15 minutes away. Check out @TheRobertD’s new post to find out why: http://bit.ly/185RiYw

You must be at a point where you physically pull yourself out of bed once the light has gone off in order to give just 15 minutes more. Of course, you also have to be fully prepared that the 15 minutes can easily turn into two hours. Once you have excellence in your sights, it’s hard to stop the pursuit.

A lack of excellence is why most blogs, books, and businesses fail. An excellent platform cannot support content that is not also excellent. Each is half of the equation, and each must be excellent.

I’m curious…what project in your life needs an extra 15 minutes right now?

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  • http://deuceology.wordpress.com Larry Carter

    Robert, I have been writing an eBook to give away. It would have possibly been good,, but some lightbulbs have gone off on how to make it excellent. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • http://therobertd.com/ Robert D. Smith

      Awesome, Larry! Glad you picked up a few ideas to take it to the next level.

  • http://www.ipro-software.com/ Andrew Jones

    This seems like a bit of waffle to me, you are setting your own standard of excellence. But excellence is defined by what other people think of you / your product. The only sensible part of this post is to set an objective, when you complete it spend a further 15 minutes to see if you can enhance what you have delivered and then implement the one thing. Therefore you are delivering more than the client has expected so they will get a wow affect!

    • http://therobertd.com/ Robert D. Smith

      Thanks for your thoughts, Andrew! The bottom line is that you have no control over outside definitions of excellence. However, if you come up with your own definition that consistently exceeds most outside definitions, you will never have to worry.

      • http://www.ipro-software.com/ Andrew Jones

        Very true, but lets take it from a product perspective for me to achieve my own personal opinion of excellence I would need a much larger budget and bigger timeframe. So with that not being possible you are lowering the bar but maybe you could still say you are delivering excellence for the price the client is paying…….

        • http://therobertd.com/ Robert D. Smith

          Andrew, what I’ve found is that you ALWAYS are going to want a larger budget and bigger timeframe. The trick is to push and find a way to deliver excellence with the resources and time you have available.

    • http://kwinpeterson.com/ Kwin Peterson

      I agree Andrew; creating something that meets my definition of excellence will only matter if it matches my audience’s definition of excellence. Excellence is generally worth striving for and should always be considered, but it may not be useful in all circumstances and is no guarantee of success.

  • http://www.mattham.com/ Matt Ham

    I just finished the first draft of my first book “You Make My Life Rich.” I am having some trusted friends read it now before seeking editing and publication. The book is a DIRECT result of re-engaging in content you’ve created or helped to create. I feel like I owe you copies!!
    I have been very intentional for the last 120 days in seeking wisdom and pursuing the story!
    Thank YOU for all of the encouragement along the way. You are a champion my friend! And by my measure, very rich indeed!

    • http://therobertd.com/ Robert D. Smith

      WoooooHoooooo, Matt!! Congratulations! That is huge. Very proud of YOU for stepping out and stepping up.

      • http://www.mattham.com/ Matt Ham

        Thanks Robert! Great quote by CS Lewis “The future occurs for all men at the rate of 60 minutes per hour” – let’s make every one count!

  • Johnny Lee Phillips

    Good post Robert. Thanks! My blog could use an extra 15 minutes right now!

  • Lino

    Boy, does this ring true to me right here right now. I feel like I have so many projects right now that I can’t excel in any of them. I’m going to stop and try to be excellent, an extra 15 minutes to push to excellence

  • James Carbary

    I’m working on a site called WorthDayPlanner.com that allows people to celebrate people they love & invite several people to join them. The site features an easy to use invitation tool, an idea bank of creative ways to celebrate, and a day organizer so everyone invited can select an idea from the idea bank and place it into an open time slot. By the end of the Worth Day, the recipient will know how incredibly valued they are by the people in their life. Launching in January and extremely excited about it!

    • http://therobertd.com/ Robert D. Smith

      That’s great, James! I love the launch page you have up right now. Very cool.

      • James Carbary

        Thanks Robert!

  • David Mike

    I have tried to put other content into my blog besides my main story but it seems as if most people respond to “the story”. I just want to make sure the blog continues after the story is told in completion.

  • ScottHarpole

    Thanks Robert for another vision of how to see my work.
    I’m implementing the process of inviting 30 friends to review my children’s bedtime stories (www.mydadsbedtimestories.com) to find out their feedback and then decide how to best start my subscription plan. I’ve been putting this off forever and I’m not sure why.
    I’m not really not afraid of anything, at least I don’t consciously think so, and I’m not the computer nerd type who has to have it all perfect. Maybe I’m more comfortable with trying then actually putting my heart out there.
    I do know that I can make this excellent by simply doing my best and getting these stories into the hands of others.
    Thanks for all that you do to encourage me.

  • http://timmilburn.com/ timage

    I like conversations about excellence. Excellence is both personal and public. We have our own idea of what it would take to raise the bar personally. We also want to produce work that is recognized publicly as being excellent. What I’m discovering is that personal excellence produces a better product than trying to match someone else’s idea of excellence. Excellence that flows from the inside out (which you nail in #1) feels more powerful than trying to achieve something from the outside in.

  • Joey Hancock

    Robert D.,
    You shared this idea with me personally a while back and I use it constantly. It really gives a direction to stay on task, often a problem for me! I am working on preparing to launch into a new position that the town of Grayson, GA gave me last night as the town and Art/History Center’s “Writer in Residence”. I am so honored and excited. I’ll be setting my timer (shaped like a bug) many times in the days ahead. Thanks for your leadership!

    • http://therobertd.com/ Robert D. Smith

      Congrats on the new position, Joey! A huge honor.

      • Joey

        Thanks! You have been a big,big part of it!

  • Tony Wright

    Hi Robert. Your post is good for me right now. I am working on a new eBook – “10 Putting Improvement Tasks That WORK!” I believe the content I am developing passes the helping people and being relevant in 200 years test. And I promise to use your “15 Minutes to Excellence” process as I am completing this eBook. Thanks

  • Kathleen Thompson

    One thing I have found is that timing the 15 minutes is important. I almost launched something last night and wasn’t quite happy with it. Try as I might, I could not get it to my satisfaction. This morning I spent those 15 minutes and it was exactly what I wanted. A good night’s sleep was all it took.
    Thanks, Robert. lots of wisdom packed in here as always.

  • Brooke Ashley Izzo

    I love this Thank you Robert and thank you so much for the book. You have no idea how much that meant to me

    • Brooke Ashley Izzo

      my email now is brookeizzo@ymail.com… I was able to recover this account and I just want you to have both of them :)

  • mgray

    “What is easy is seldom excellent.” – Samuel Johnson

  • Steve Pate

    As of resent, I’ve found belief in doing small things with excellence. I used to get a bit over whelm with all the projects on my list and dealing with items that was not on the list. I’ve found, by sticking with my priorities or asking the question, “what is most important for today?” has helped me follow through with excellence.

    I guess the compound effect happens here, keep doing small things with excellence and the bigger picture flows with strength. Thanks Robert.

  • PaulMichaelGilleland

    Great post. I’ve recently been included as one of the leaders on bringing a popular sports blog back to relevancy and these tips are excellent (pun intended) and, I anticipate, incredibly useful to our future success in this venture. Thanks, Robert!


  • http://sparkvoice.wordpress.com/ DS

    Folks could really benefit from reading your book, where you made some excellent points regarding this. Thanks for making your ideas/concepts tangible.

  • Funke Uniek Grace Ojo

    Oh Robert, I needed to hear this: I got a response from my editor that I have to REWRITE my manuscript of 57000 words!!!!!!!!! I wanted to scream and cry at the same time! Rewrite??? but thanks for these words of encouragement to redefine the reason we do what we do. So for the cause of excellence, I am putting in 15 minutes everyday until a masterpiece is done for the world to read :-) thnx friend because i have just been staring at the editors note everyday for 2 weeks now