May 2011

Excellence

Excellence, as you know, is for me what defines—and enables—greatness. It’s a word that’s been part of our language for about 700 years, with roots going back much farther, via Latin, to a core meaning of "rising high."

As we watch our Medical Center earn growing lists of accolades across all three aspects of our mission, I think it’s worth pausing for a moment to reflect on what that tells us. 

Accolades are the result, not the objective, of doing one’s best. However gratifying they may be, they serve only to confirm that something of genuine merit has been achieved.

So perhaps the question becomes: when you do something that seems important, but no one is there to witness—say nothing of applaud—it, does it matter? I guess that’s a variation on the old question of whether a falling tree makes a sound when there’s no one around to hear it.

For me, doing anything to the best of one’s ability—whether in the arts, parenting, sports, gardening, you name it—brings with it a sense of satisfaction unlike any other.

In that sense, excellence is its own reward. 

But when, as is the case for us, it’s about taking care of other people, I think excellence is the ultimate form of caring and respect—an understanding of, and commitment to providing, what our fellow human beings most need from us.