The next question was, “Tell us why you decided to write about excellence. Were you inspired by all the excellence you see around you everyday, or was it quite the opposite?
That’s interesting, because it was quite the opposite. I was actually inspired by mediocrity! A couple years ago, several of my students were not performing very well. They were apathetic, arriving late, not practicing the way they were capable of, and showed no sense of urgency. In short, they were not working toward excellence. I talked to them about it, both individually and collectively, but any progress we made, didn’t seem to stick. It was very frustrating for me and for them, and it bothered me. And when something bothers me, I write about it.
We went on to give our performance later that semester which I would describe as being “pretty good.” It was pretty good, but it certainly was not excellent. I even had one student come up to me right after the performance and confess, “Dr. Buyer, I never want to feel that way again,” basically describing the lack of confidence and the lack of preparation he felt during the performance. That hit me hard, like a punch in the gut. So I took some time to reflect.
I wanted to find out why this happened. I wanted to find out what put us in this position in the first place. As a leader, I wanted to use this as a teachable moment and make sure this never happened again. But most of all, I wanted to find out what was missing – what was missing in myself or what was missing in my students. What I discovered was, what was missing were the 8 values I discuss in Working Toward Excellence. So, ironically, I have my students to thank for inspiring me. Without that experience of “pretty good,” I would never have written the book.