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Assuming you have taken the time to identify your personal values/principles, let me take a punt at identifying two of them.

Family. See, told you I was clever. Okay, unless you’re living alone or are a complete psychopath there is a good chance you put Family on your list. The level of compliance with that value (over work, for example) is another question, but for another time.

The second on is Excellence. Was I right? Is excellence on your list of personal value statements, appropriately defined? Well, if I was – I recommend that you take it off.

That may seem an odd thing to suggest. You may feel that excellence as a value is an accurate reflection of what you believe to be a unifying truth. Well it is. And it was on my list of values for a long, long time. And then I removed it.

I removed it because excellence is a lovely target to have, but an impossible one to hit. Not always – sometimes you do something that you think is perfect, and sometimes you will be absolutely right.

But I know of no-one who is ever completely satisfied with an outcome that can be and is affected in any way at all by the actions or assessments of other people. Excellence is so easily defined as being somewhat parallel to perfection. And that target constantly changes.

I have written books, and both although and because my valuing of ‘excellence’ existed, I rewrote them all. Some needed routine legal/practice/digital updating but others just weren’t good enough – for me. And even when I was happy with it, and felt I had achieved excellence – someone else saw it and made some genuinely pertinent observation that made me wish ‘I’d thought of that’.

Which is a good example of showing that excellence is very often in the eye of the beholder, which means it is to some degree outside of your Circle of Influence. Well, certainly the smaller Circle of Control, anyway.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t aim for excellence. But if you’re going to make it a value, prepare to disappoint yourself. You will do that constantly.

What to do, instead? I suggest you consider valuing Effort. You know how much of yourself you put into any endeavour, and you know when you aren’t doing enough. Other people’s opinions and assessments can’t affect what you know you have done, and how well you tried to do it. If you value effort, you value the mental effort you take to learn the particular method for doing something, you know whether you sweated enough in terms of the physical effort, and you know whether you put the time (psychological effort) into the task.

You can also, then, make some allowance and forgive yourself when you did all you could and it still wasn’t enough. For example, when you make an error that costs you dearly. You may well have done an excellent job, but something or someone felt disappointed and the result was you lost out. But you know, at the very least, that you did the best you could with the resources you had.

You put in the Effort. Your integrity is sound, and you maintain your sense of dignity and personal self-esteem.

Which is excellent.

Review your value of ‘Excellence’ and redefine it to mean Effort. It is worth the, er, investment.