After a lengthy day of giving it all, I drive home engaged in those closing phone calls to my colleagues who remain on the field of battle endeavoring to finish their days.  Once home, I am adoringly assailed by my faithful dogs, and receive a kiss from my wife as she embarks on telling me of our dinner plans.  I work my way over to my bar to initiate my next imminent mission.  From the freezer, I remove the spring water ice block I prepared the previous night and place it on a cutting board. Taking out my sharpened ice pick, I chop several hefty pieces of ice off the block and place them into a crystal glass.  I begrudge small contaminated ice cubes melting and watering down my cocktail.  I next seize a lemon, smell its freshness, slash it and with a slight squeeze, drop a slice into the tumbler.  I reach for my caramel tinged Kentucky Bourbon and pour three-fingers high adding a dash of Peychaud’s Bitters and a dart of Angostura’s Bitters crowned by a modest dollop of pure Agave Syrup.  As these aromas and textures are settling, I delicately introduce a splash of fine herbal Absinthe, the Green Fairy (recently allowed back into the United States after almost a century of banishment).  All that’s left to do is top this apéritif  off with a squirt of my personal homemade purified seltzer and stir until the glass frosts.  Then I walk out to the patio start-up the barbecue, sit down, close my eyes, take a deep breath and let my olfactory senses take in the moment of my first sip.  Marvelous!  A Perfect Sazerac Cocktail!

I perform this ritual, when I can, to remind myself that Quality matters.  Strong Leaders inherently know that Quality is not a part-time thing.  Leaders incorporate quality into every morsel of their daily lives. Aristotle, the teacher to great Leaders such as Alexander the Great, Ptolemy and Cassander said, “Quality is not an act, it is a habit.”  A commitment to quality on a personal level is compulsory for a Leader desiring to extract the greatest work from his team.  It is the example he lives, even in regards to the smallest details, which set the baseline for the standards of acceptable behaviors and attitudes.  Even a momentary slip into mediocrity opens the flood gates for substandard performance from the team.

Quality is the most important force in successful achievement of our goals.  It is a “Prime” Value which must be at the core of any endeavor.  Good Leaders know they cannot do everything, but everything they do, should be done with excellence.  If Aristotle takes it too far back for you, just type some common business terms into Google and see how many listing there are.  Nothing comes close to “Quality” at over five billion.  Quality matters in every aspect of our lives!

Number of Google Search Listings

To be a great leader you must realize that Quality is finite.  There is no such thing as 50% quality.  It is either there or it is not.  You strive for it, you demand it, you fight for it, or you go home.  Quality delineates winners and losers.  You must believe quality is a very personal responsibility.  A responsibility to yourself and to those you hope to lead.  It necessitates constituting expectations of excellence in every goal you resolve to accomplish.  You must be constantly and consistently on top of quality in all of your team interactions.  If they know you expect their best, it is amazing how you will get it.

One of my favorite stories highlighting quality is told by retired ambassador Winston Lord from when he was working on a project for Henry Kissinger.  He recounts:

Henry Kissinger at the 2009 premiere of the Me...

Image via Wikipedia

“I went in with a draft, and it was actually of a presidential foreign policy report. … I would go in with a draft of the speech. He called me in the next day and said, “Is this the best you can do?” I said, “Henry, I thought so, but I’ll try again.” So I go back in a few days, another draft. He called me in the next day and he said, “Are you sure this is the best you can do?” I said, “Well, I really thought so. I’ll try one more time.” Anyway, this went on eight times, eight drafts; each time he said, “Is this the best you can do?” So I went in there with a ninth draft, and when he called me in the next day and asked me that same question, I really got exasperated and I said, “Henry, I’ve beaten my brains out – this is the ninth draft. I know it’s the best I can do: I can’t possibly improve one more word.” He then looked at me and said, “In that case, now I’ll read it.”

We are all familiar with the term “Quality of Life”.  Quality of Life refers to the principal that as living breathing human beings, our time is irreplaceable and predictably limited.  Once your time is spent, it is under no circumstances recovered.  Life’s moments spent without excellence are simply squandered.  They are less than they could have been and there are not any second chances.  Quality of Life is one of the foremost reasons people will follow great leaders.  When people are striving for excellence, they feel their life has purpose and value.  They are inspired and fulfilled.  Yes, they are unconquerable!

As a Street Smart Leader you must be “ungenerous” with your time.  Refuse to be involved with pursuits of ordinary mediocrity.  Mark your personal brand with excellence.  Determine the activities of your work and life that are deserving of your best efforts and perform them with unquestionable levels of worth.  Be the exemplar of quality for your team, especially when tasks are seemingly insignificant and especially when they are challenging.  If you have built your A-Team properly, they will rise to your example and propel your business forward.  Most importantly, regardless of the toil, your efforts will be rewarded because you have added to the Quality of “Your” Life.  Let’s toast to that!