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As an executive search firm, Accreate’s task is to source the best people for the best roles. We strive to find the most talented individuals for our clients. We look for thought leaders who are highly experienced professionals at the top of their game. In short, we are in search of excellence.

So what does excellence look like? How do we know we have found what we are looking for? The standard perceived wisdom is that you need to spend a minimum of 10,000 hours on an activity or skill in order to master it.

I recently attended the Image networking breakfast event “In Search of Excellence” at Dublin’s Marker hotel. It was an inspiring morning and it was interesting to hear what ‘excellence’ meant to the speakers and their thoughts on what their understanding of excellence is.

According to one of the keynote speakers, Fiona Flannery (CEO at Depfa Bank), “Excellence is something superior, something brilliant, it is a thing done to a really high standard, an unusual, noteworthy standard that clearly sets you apart from the crowd; it’s an attribute that ticks ALL the boxes.” With her exemplary career (70,000 hours of expertise to date!) and proven track record of success, Fiona personifies the true meaning of ‘excellence’ in her field.

Fiona outlined some of the best practises that people she believes to be ‘excellent’ have incorporated into their routines.While I am unlikely to adopt all of them overnight, I certainly plan on working some of these strategies for excellence into how I approach my own career. They are as follows:

  • Have a hunger for success, as many people who have reached the pinnacle of their industries have demonstrated an innate ambition to be the best.
  • Find one or two things in the day job that you are already really strong at and aim to be amazing at them.
  • You must identify your own personal “thing” and go from being really good at it to being simply excellent at that too.
  • Work on that talent or trait in a very focused way as practice makes perfect.
  • Stay relevant, do it for yourself as knowledge is power, carve out the time in your day and treat yourself to this power.
  • I believe that, for most, ‘excellence’ is a journey, not a destination; it is a quality we find in many of the talented people we search for on behalf of our clients.

At Accreate, we are focused on sourcing high calibre individuals who consistently strive for excellence; even those who appear to have already reached the pinnacle of their professional careers are invariably focused on continuous professional development and on learning new skills. To quote one final thought from Fiona’s talk last week (that she in turn borrowed from Charles Darwin!) “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”

Articles by Caroline Baldwin