The Difference Between Excelling and Innovating

September 3, 2010 § Leave a comment

A good way of evaluating the impact your project, artwork or business will have in its community is by measuring it against the following model:




Where and how do you and your work fit into these distinctions?

Let me explain. A first step for any child at school or any beginner in the workplace would be to begin producing work that’s standard, i.e. producing something that is as good as the general norm for their marketplace. This means that a person would have gained the knowledge and skills necessary to produce acceptable work. At school they would pass their exams without afan and win the choice to go to an okay University. Later, they would probably work full-time to just about make a living, being unrecognizable from the general masses. But nobody would be able to criticize their honest and effective work.

Excelling is a step beyond. An excellent student wows teachers and fights for a place at Oxbridge or in the Ivy League.  An excellent musician is recruited by promotors to tour out of town and to sign for record labels.  Actresses go to hollywood and web start-ups gain huge volumes of traffic, making 8-figure exits to the likes of Yahoo and Google.  To excel is to become the undoubted best in your field.

And innovation?  Perhaps the trickiest of the lot.  Here we’re one step beyond excelling, we’re finding shortcuts, new connections, new ways of interacting and new ways of carrying out our work.  An innovative student may come top of his class because he learned how to speed read, or perhaps he garnered a copy of the answer key from the teacher’s cupboard.  An innovative rugby player was the first in his generation to use the gym on a daily basis, but his weightlifting counterpart secretly munched in the locker-room twilight on steroids.  An innovative business cuts out the middleman, linking buyers and sellers together through a simple search engine facility.  Get Rich Quick schemers are often the most nimble innovators of the lot.

Innovation is key to progress, is both positive and negative, and posits a new anti-hero to the Exceller.  But once you begin innovating you’re now on your own in a newly defined field – starting from scratch you first have to make your new work an industry standard, and then consider excelling.

What would you rather be doing..  Excelling or Innovating?

Let me just suggest, that if you’re just starting out, and dreaming of one, the other, or both for your career – you may just want to start out standardizing – otherwise you may never take those tricky first steps forward.

Real excellers and innovators will always shine through, once they have the platform from which to do it.

Procrastinating?  Pick up your Free Workbook and overcome that habit, today.


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