The first time I went to Ghana, I had to wait at the front of Accra Mall for my host to come pick me.
While I was waiting for him to come, I had the privilege to behold the beauty of the Accra Mall and its environment.
The Mall is indeed beautiful. Great design, spacious car park and friendly people.
It was my first international journey so everything was of great interest and appeal to me.
I saw black people drive into the parking lot of the Mall and I saw white people from other countries who are resident in the region drive in, too.
I listened keenly to how they call things and I found that they call “bus” bas. They call “pastor” pasta. “Nature” nacha. “Coordinator” codinata and they call the male folks “Charlie.”
I went into the Mall to get a loaf of bread for my host so we could share at least because I couldn’t get one before I left my home.
I asked one of the workers in the Mall where I could get bread and he said, “The bakery section have not “opined.” Check back by 9am.” Then I said okay, they’ve not “opened.” He smiled back and said “Yes!”
I got to know that based on oral English transcription that’s how those words should be pronounced. “Stuff” sounds like “staff” .
I’ve been improving my pronunciation lately.
Of all the things that caught my eyes while I was waiting for my host to come pick me, there was one that stood out among the many.
Of all the cars, the people, the structures and the conversations, there was something special that caught my eye.
It was a little signpost on the other side of the road. Just 20 meters or so from the front of Accra Mall.
The amazing thing about this signpost is that it is different from all other signposts. It wasn’t for advertisement, nor for traffic regulation nor for direction. It was simple and special in its own way. Standing all alone.
Just 8 pieces of boxes joined together to make something that looked almost like a cross.
On it were written two short tiny words: “IDEA” and “IDEAL”
When I first saw the signpost, the questions that came to my mind were, what is this stuff doing at this strategic point in the heart of the capital of Ghana? Of what relevance is the signpost and why the two short tiny words?
IDEA and IDEAL.
In my amazement, I took a closer look at the placement of those words on the signpost and I discovered that if you look at it from the left hand side down, you have “IDEA.” If you look at it from the top down, you have “IDEA. If you omit the first box from the left hand side and look it forward to the right, you have “DEAL.” And if you play with the word “DEAL”, you have “LEAD.”
I looked further and I discovered that the boxes that bears the letters that makes these words were placed two box at the top, two at the left, two at the right and one at the base. Two, two, two, one.
And each of the two, two, two, one box are all connected to the center box that bears the letter “E”.
Then, I asked myself, what is that unique “E” in an “IDEA” that makes it “IDEAL”?
What is that unique “E” in an “IDEAL” that makes it a worthwhile “IDEA”?
What is that unique “E” in an “IDEAL” situation that brings good “DEAL”?
And finally, what is the unique “E” in “IDEA” and “IDEAL” that can make one a “LEADer”?
That “E” must be the “E” that makes the difference!
As I tried to unravel this puzzle while still waiting for my host to come, it became clear to me that the “E” is “EXCELLENCE.”
The only thing that makes an idea ideal, the only thing that makes an ideal a worthwhile idea, the only thing that makes an ideal situation bring good deal and the only thing that can blend an idea and ideal to make one a leader in whatsoever one does in life is “EXCELLENCE.”
What sets top business leaders apart from the others is that they deliver per excellence.
Everything that comes out of their company in terms of products or services has a perfect touch of excellence.
Their unique value/selling proposition is excellence.
An idea might be what you need to enter a market. An ideal situation might be what you need to launch, but it is “EXCELLENCE” that will keep you in the market.
When the forces of demand and supply begins to act, it is “EXCELLENCE” in product and service delivery that will give you competitive edge.
Ladies and gentlemen, until excellence becomes your brand, you don’t have a business. You just have a hobby.
Your brand is what you’re known for. It is people’s perception about you. It is what poops up in the minds of people when they mention your name or hear about you. It is what you’re remembered for. Your brand is you.
And until excellence becomes your brand, you do not have a business.
As entrepreneurs, as businesspeople, as leaders and as key players in the affairs of our lives, let everything we do have a touch of EXCELLENCE.
In my secondary school days, I saw a picture post that says, “I want to be so full of Christ that when a mosquito bites me, it would fly away singing there’s power in the blood.”
Likewise, I wish that we would develop a magnificent obsession for EXCELLENCE in delivery of products and services and discharge of duties such that our clients would leave us singing, s/he delivers per excellence.
If you’re a manufacturer, manufacture with a touch of excellence. If you’re a fashion designer, design with excellence. If you’re an engineer, repair with excellence. If you’re a musician, sing with excellence. If you’re a teacher, teach with excellence. If you’re an IT solution provider, providing solutions with a touch of excellence. If you’re a consultant, consult with excellence. If you’re a bricklayer, “bricklay” with excellence. If you’re a comedian, perform with excellence. If you’re a leader, lead with excellence!
While I was still engrossed in unravelling this puzzle that this little signpost brought, my host came. And as we drove home from the front of Accra Mall, I remembered the words of King Solomon of ancient Israel when he said, “Whatever your hand findeth to do, do it with the whole of your heart.” Yes, do it with a touch of excellence.
Even if you’re a candle stick seller or a pepper seller, sell with a touch of excellence.
If someone asks you to help them write a letter or edit a piece, (that’s a lifetime opportunity for you to create an impression) write that letter and edit that piece with a touch of excellence.
Martin Luther King Jr. once says: “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michael Angelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” That’s doing your job with a touch of excellence.
Over the years and even while I was an undergrad, I handle projects for people. And the good thing is, even if what you are asking me to do for you is to help you compose a one page text message, it must be done and delivered per excellence.
Isn’t it a thing of joy when doctorates read through the project that you did for a client and they approve the work immediately? That’s my brand. Excellence.
Last month, I got a call from a friend and she said, Pius, I need to make a case before the Deputy Vice Chancellor of my University over an issue that I am having. Can you help pull up a letter in this regard in my favour? I said yes. As fast as I could, I sent her my draft and the following day, she called saying “wow, the letter passed through immediately. Thank you.” That’s a touch of EXCELLENCE.
Three days ago after I returned from my second trip to Ghana, I got a call from a student who I aided in putting up her Industrial Training Report alongside her PowerPoint Slides for defense. She called to say thank you that she had an “A” in the course.
You may not understand the weight of this “A” but it means she had a GPA of 5.0 on a scale of 5.0 in an academic semester. You can imagine the good boost that this score will give to her CGPA.
Anything that I put my face and name on today must have a touch of excellence. Anything that passes through my table must have a touch of excellence. Anything that has my signature on it must have a perfect touch of excellence. That’s my brand. It is not pride. It is a discipline that I am working on everyday.
Yours may not be writing, speaking or editing. It might be as little as rendering help, guiding someone, teaching someone, or decorating, painting, serving, printing, marketing, whatsoever. My advice is, let it have a touch of excellence. Be known for excellence. Let excellence becomes your brand, your identity, your value and all.
And that will make the difference and lift you higher in life.
Africa is a promising continent. Our potentials are enormous. If we would put EXCELLENCE in all we do in terms of product and service delivery, we would become the envy of the world.
May these ideas bring you good luck and happiness in all you do.