From Henry Ford to Elon Musk ,the image of a successful entrepreneur has often been intertwined with a set of traditional ideals
- Unyielding compromise
- Unwavering determination
- An unrelenting pursuit of success
It is seen that there is a shift in the definition of excellence—benchmarks of success such as wealth, fame and power have begun to co-exist with qualities that transcends the headlines—qualities like personal growth, empathy and commitment to lasting values. The question that arises is that ‘what does it mean to pursue ‘excellence’ or ‘greatness’ today.
Excellence is no longer solely about conquering frontiers or amassing fortunes, its about having positive mark in the world, fostering innovation with ethics and making decisions that resonate through generations. In the realm of entrepreneurship ,excellence is associated with innovation, ,self-discipline and drive. Examples of entrepreneurial excellence includes people like Elon Musk and Steve Jobs. When we think about Elon Musk, his boldness and willingness to disrupt industries have yielded transformative results ,yet his leadership style is marked by demanding expectations, public spats and sometimes controversial presence on social media. Again, when we look at Steve Jobs, we see him as a person responsible for much of the company’s product vision and innovation who is celebrated for revolutionising personal technology. But is inability to relate to others was as legendary as his vision. His uncompromising pursuit of perfection yielded ground breaking products, but his interpersonal relationship and management methods were often called into question.
While the achievements of Jobs and Musk are undeniable, the emphasis on such figures as entrepreneurial role models perpetuates an image of excellence defined by brashness, bombastic and all consuming individualism . But as younger generations search for relevant role models of greatness, they seek to redefine how the trait manifests in society. Excellence in this context is not confined to individuals achievements but also extends to their contributions to the greater good. Leaders who realise the strength of collaboration, who consider the impact of decisions on diverse communities and who work to bridge societal divides exemplify a new facet of excellence. Embracing kindness and empathy of leadership fosters collaboration, creativity and sustainable growth in organisations. A leader prioritising these qualities can inspire loyalty, and dedication amongst employees ,creating a more harmonious and productive work environment. Additionally exercising restraint and thoughtfulness in decision making prevents hasty actions that might bring short term gains but lead to detrimental long term consequences.
The question that arises is ‘Can excellence be achieved without overshadowing qualities like kindness, empathy and restraint? The challenge lies in finding a balance between audacity and empathy, innovation and collaboration. In his 2010 commencement speech at Princeton, Jeff Bezos recounted some wisdom he learned from his grandfather…’Jeff ,one day you will understand that it is harder to be kind than clever ’.Ultimately excellence should not be narrowly defined by the disruption of industries alone, it should also encompass the enhancement of society as a whole, with kindness, empathy and restraint being integral components of that journey. Kindness and Stoicism offer new approaches to modern entrepreneurial excellence.
The narrative of excellence needs to be rewritten to include leaders who strive not just for personal greatness but also for betterment of humanity. True excellence is as much about how we treat others as it is about what we achieve.