“Excellence is your next email”

How micro-actions lead to excellence in the workplace

April 8, 2018
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In an interview with Daniel Pink, leadership guru Tom Peters says “excellence is your next email.”

Peters is known for saying, “Excellence is the next five minutes.” That’s true, too.

The point of his comment is that it’s common to believe excellence is some huge kind of feat. In other words, our default is to believe excellence requires enormous planning, preparation, and perseverance. The truth is excellence starts with how you approach all the mico-decisions in your life and work. This includes seemingly mundane decisions like communicating with our coworkers and how we maintain our environment.

Excellence starts with how you approach all the mico-decisions in your life and work

Josh Mitchell

Peters continues: “In a five line email, you reveal every single important element of your personality and view of life.” Peters remarks to Dan that they both know this is true.

Cue it up to 10:50 to hear Tom Peter’s riff on “Excellence is…”

When life and work get crazy, spending time to thoughtfully craft a message in writing requires focus and thinking. We resist higher level thinking and reasoning. We want to achieve the end goal without dealing with the messy middle.

As you reflect on your work, do you approach micro-actions with any level of excellence?

Excellent email writing doesn’t have to look super fancy or be “English on stilts.” It doesn’t mean you have to start have all the correct grammar and punctuation (key word start). It means you have consider your reader and the issue at hand. It means pausing and thinking about the questions someone might have when they read your writing. It means caring for others: showing empathy and connection.

What are you revealing about your personality when you send an email?

What are you revealing about your view of life when you share your writing?

Peters’ observation rings true for me. Many of my coworkers and colleagues reveal so much about their values in the way they write. Some take the time to write thoughtful, clear words. This earns trust. Others spew out information onto the screen. This causes frustration and extra work.

Have you considered how you can spread excellence in your micro-actions?