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Celebrating Excellence!

Honoring Hard Work and Achievement...

Karen and Jay share thoughts on the importance of striving for and celebrating excellence in our daily lives and pursuits.

We advance through taking action – applying ourselves to the task – and doing so with the intense desire to succeed. To achieve excellence. This is how we progress as individuals. It is also how we progress as a society and as a nation. Therefore, it is imperative that we also encourage and celebrate these attributes. Honoring effort, hard work – and most of all, recognizing those who succeed. Honoring the quest for excellence and embracing advancement based on merit.

In a society where ‘participation trophies’ have become the norm, the moment is now for us to recommit ourselves to the idea of excellence. In so many instances, this means ‘winning,’ not simply participating. In so doing, we have the opportunity to elevate winners to their properly earned position of esteem. Reinforcing a society that celebrates victors - while encouraging self-reliance, effort, and achievement.

Celebrating winners in our society serves as a powerful motivator and reminder of the value of hard work, achievement, and excellence. When we honor individuals who have excelled in their respective fields, whether in sports, academics, or the arts, we send a clear message that success is worthy of recognition and admiration. By highlighting the accomplishments of winners, we inspire others to strive for greatness and to push themselves beyond their limits in pursuit of their goals.

Moreover, celebrating winners reinforces the importance of meritocracy and the idea that rewards should be commensurate with effort and achievement. In a society that values fairness and equal opportunity, recognizing winners serves as a tangible demonstration of the principle that hard work and dedication are rewarded. This fosters a culture of excellence where individuals are encouraged to pursue their passions and aspirations with vigor, knowing that their efforts will be acknowledged and appreciated.

Furthermore, celebrating winners helps to cultivate a sense of respect for excellence and achievement, both in oneself and in others. When we applaud the accomplishments of winners, we acknowledge the sacrifices, perseverance, and discipline required to reach the pinnacle of success. This fosters a culture of mutual respect and admiration, where individuals are inspired by the achievements of their peers and strive to emulate their success through their own hard work and dedication.

Finally, celebrating winners instills a sense of pride and collective achievement in society as a whole. When individuals or teams achieve greatness, they not only bring honor to themselves but also to their communities, schools, and nations. By celebrating their victories, we unite as a society in recognizing and celebrating the triumphs of our fellow citizens, fostering a sense of camaraderie and solidarity that transcends individual differences and barriers. In doing so, we reinforce the belief that success is a shared endeavor and that we all have a stake in celebrating the achievements of our winners.

Excellence Recognized

Contributed by Jon Morton, of our ‘Small Town Turnaround’/Sunshine Initiative Team

Four score and about a year ago (1943), a different Abraham than the one who talked about our forefathers bringing forth a new nation, wrote a paper called “A Theory of Human Motivation”.

In contrast to Lincoln, who spoke about a new birth of freedom for the whole nation in his Gettysburg Address, Abraham Maslow spoke about the hierarchy of human needs. Starting with food, shelter, and security and rising through achieving one’s full potential; near the top of the list is recognition, prestige, and the feeling of accomplishment. What Maslow wrote about wasn’t a new theory by any means. In fact, it has been well known throughout the course of human history that the recognition of excellence promotes more excellence in behavior.

This is something I experienced first-hand recently, when being honored with the Ben Feldman award. Not the actor, this Ben was…. well Google him in reference to insurance, quite a resume. He wasn’t flashy, or what you might call a born salesperson. In fact, he was quite humble and steered clear of being on stage whenever possible. His secret to success was being excellent at what he did. From his calling on prospective clients, to his presentations, to servicing his clients, he did it all with excellence. He was esteemed with awards early in his career and the income followed. I’ve found the same to be true for my career.

While this concept is embodied by the wonderful, 175 year old company I work with, This concept isn’t new to me though with the wonderful, 175-year-old Fortune 100 company I work for, it’s not really new to me.  In my first real career, I wore the US Air Force uniform proudly, and as anyone who knows much about the military branches, earning ribbons and stripes is a big part of your goals. These aren’t something you simply get for showing up. They don’t give out participation awards, at least not when I served. From the moment you get up in the morning, you start by making your bed. To quote Navy Admiral McRaven, it’s about doing even the little things with excellence. “If you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never do the big things right. If by chance you have a miserable day, you’ll come home to a bed that is made. That you made, and a made bed will give you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.”

Those things we do with excellence and get recognition for, we can always look back at the ribbon, the medal, the bronze eagle statue, the acrylic and gold-plated paperweight, and know that we earned it for having done something intangible. Some employers might say, or at least think, “I pay you, what else do you want?” I’ll suggest that’s the wrong approach. Whenever you see something being done with excellence, or even attempted, recognize it. Whether it’s with an employee, a spouse, a friend, etc., always look for ways to appreciate them. When it comes to acknowledging the display of excellence, as Dale Carnegie said, “Be lavish in your approbation and lavish in your praise”.

“We Make Excellence Exciting!”

Contributed by Brian Hettrick, Executive Director of the Sunshine Initiative

The word "Excellence," just like the word "Quality," is one that everyone will tell you, "Oh, I know what that means!" However, when a group of people is asked to write down what excellence means to them or to their organization, the results are often all over the map! Why is this? Because so often we use words without really knowing what they mean. The Greek root word for excellence is 'arete', which means excellence of any kind. This notion of excellence is inextricably linked with an individual’s fulfillment of purpose. In our English language, 'excel' is the word that means to go beyond what is expected. Excellence today means greatness – the very best. And achieving it is never easy to do.

The ExcellenceNorth Alliance (ENA) recently had approved by the USPTO (US Patent & Trademark Office) the service mark "We Make Excellence Exciting!" Why did they go to the trouble of applying for and getting this particular phrase? Well, first of all, it’s in their name, but it actually goes much deeper than that. NIST (The National Institute of Standards and Technology) manages the Baldrige Program – which is what the ENA manages and administers for the states of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. The Baldrige Excellence Framework, which is at the heart of the Program, is a set of proven leadership and management practices for high performance, i.e., excellence! And it’s for all these reasons that the tagline on the ENA website is “Coaching, Training, and Recognition for Organizational Excellence.” They want to bring excellence into every organization and, in doing so, help everyone to fulfill their purpose by truly finding joy in their learning and work.

The Framework is built on a set of interrelated core values and concepts. There are a couple of them that specifically call out excellence. The Systems Perspective is one that’s very difficult for many organizations, as it requires breaking out of the silos and managing all the elements of your organization as a unified whole to achieve your mission, ongoing success, and performance excellence. This means truly understanding the interdependencies of these elements by mapping them out so they can be managed and improved.

Another is Customer-Focused Excellence which is a strategic concept. It demands constant sensitivity to changing and emerging customer and market requirements and to the factors that drive customer engagement. It demands close attention to the Voice of the Customer. It demands anticipating changes in the marketplace. Therefore, customer-focused excellence demands a customer-focused culture and organizational agility.

It's easy to say we are a customer-focused organization, but do your results show and prove it? The Baldrige Results Category asks about your organization’s performance and improvement in all key areas: product and process results, customer results, workforce results, leadership and governance results, and financial marketplace and strategy results. These results should be trending positive over a good period of time, and data is needed to support that these results are truly excellent – either by using comparative data and/or competitive comparisons.

Here are some questions to ask of both yourself and your organization: If you did a word cloud on your bio/resume or company website, would excellence be one of the main words that appears in the cloud? Does your Mission, Vision, or Company Dashboard reflect excellence? How do you know?

If you’re looking for some guidance, there is help. The Baldrige Excellence Builder – includes questions on the most important features of organizational excellence starting with a full organization profile – basically answering the question “who are you?” not just what you do as an organization. It forces you to dig deep and articulate your organization’s purpose and how it works with your values, beliefs, and competencies – all to help drive and achieve your Mission while moving you ever closer to your Vision (of Excellence!) And for proof that this methodology does work – look no further than Northeast Delta Dental or Phaneuf Funeral Home and Crematorium – two companies that have over the years been recognized for excellence and both using the Baldrige methodology!

Positive Profile of the Week: Jenny Thompson - Excellence Personified!  


This week we are delighted to highlight as our Profile of the Week, Jenny Thompson, a world-renowned American swimmer whose life is deeply intertwined with New Hampshire, where her journey to excellence began.


Born in Danvers, Massachusetts, Thompson spent her formative years training at the Seacoast Swimming Association in Dover, New Hampshire. Her connection to the Granite State has played a pivotal role in shaping her illustrious career.


Thompson's excellence in swimming is unparalleled. She has amassed a remarkable 12 Olympic medals, including 8 gold, making her one of the most decorated Olympians in history. Her dominance in the pool has been characterized by her precision, dedication, and unwavering commitment to excellence.


Beyond her Olympic triumphs, Thompson has also set numerous world records and claimed countless national titles throughout her career. Her remarkable achievements have not only brought glory to herself but also inspired countless aspiring swimmers, especially in her home state of New Hampshire.


Moreover, Thompson's connection to New Hampshire extends beyond her athletic achievements. She remains actively involved in various charitable endeavors and community initiatives, serving as an inspiration and role model for excellence for the youth of the state.


We honor her commitment to excellence and celebrate her remarkable achievements! Congratulations, Jenny – and heartfelt thanks for all that you do.

Quotes of the Week:  Celebrating Excellence 

"Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better." - Pat Riley


"The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra." - Jimmy Johnson


"Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice, and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do." – Pele


"The only way to do great work is to love what you do." - Steve Jobs


"Excellence is not a skill, it's an attitude." - Ralph Marston


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