Excellence inside out

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By Marc Lopez

Magnificent Mondays

Monday, July 28, 2014


IT WAS Liza’s first day as a nurse in the operating room. She felt nervous. She noticed that one sponge was missing. Should she tell the surgeon? He had the reputation of being very strict but also the very best in the hospital.

She took a deep breath, “Doctor, you’ve removed eleven sponges, we used twelve.”

The surgeon sternly looked at her. “I’ve removed them all. We will close the incision now.”

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Liza respectfully protested, “Doctor, but we’re missing one.”

“I’ll take full responsibility. Suture.” Was the surgeon’s curt reply.

“Doc, we can’t. We need to look for it.” Liza replied trembling.

The surgeon smiled. He lifted his foot and showed her the twelfth sponge. “You’re not just a good nurse, you’re a good person.”

Real excellence first begins inside and then outside. David Starr Jordan, founding president of Stanford University says, "There is no real excellence in all the world which can be separated from right living.”

In the next couple of Mondays, I invite you to join me in revisiting the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. The business and self-help book has sold 15 million copies in 38 languages, and is probably one of the most positively impacting books of the 21st century. It is the book that popularized the terms “win-win” and “be proactive.”

As we review the principles that Covey shares with us, my hope is that each Monday, we start our work week with greater excellence and greater magnificence!

Covey begins the book by explaining that to have lasting change, one must begin to make changes from the inside-out. He says, “The inside-out approach says that private victory precedes public victories, that making and keeping promises to ourselves precedes making and keeping promises to others.”

If we want others to respect us, we need first to respect ourselves. If we want our customers’ perception to change for the better, our employees need to first see that change themselves.

Here are two helpful questions to ask yourself if you want to change the results you currently have. First, what changes do you want to see in your life, at home, or in your workplace? Second, before you point a finger at anyone, ask yourself: What can you do on your own to contribute to that change?

If you want to have a happy marriage, you do not need to change your spouse (literally and figuratively!), you need to change yourself. If you want to have a more cooperative teenager, be a more understanding parent. If you want to have more money you need to be more financially literate. If you want to change the customer’s perception, change the employee’s perception.

Real excellence first begins inside and then outside. It is difficult to achieve, but it lasts longer. We see it in families where success is evident both at work and at home. In companies where both the employees and the customers are happy.

Choose to have a Magnificent Monday inside and out!

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on July 28, 2014.

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