On Tuesday, November 15, more than 40 notable Jamaicans proved that, indeed, 'excellence has its rewards'. The occasion was the 20th Governor General Achievement Awards conducted under the patronage of Governor General Sir Patrick Allen and Lady Allen on the lawns of King's House, under the theme 'Recognising Excellence'.
It was my privilege to attend the ceremony as a committee member of the governor general's 'I Believe' initiative (www.IBelieveInitiative.org). The ceremony underscored for me, once again, the crucial importance of "making excellence one's watchword", to quote from Sir Patrick's inaugural address.
The irony, however, is that the award recipients, almost to a person, will avow that they never set out to gain such recognition. Instead, they merely aimed for personal excellence and sought to serve their fellow Jamaicans.
Here are three powerful lessons you can learn from them to achieve distinction in your career and personal life:
1. Commit to excellence
All great achievements start with a great commitment. In his inaugural speech, the governor general charged Jamaicans to adopt the motto: 'Only the best is good enough'. This is imperative if you desire to be outstanding in your career.
Most people settle for what's easy, convenient, and doesn't require sacrifice, hard work and self-discipline. Decide to be different.
Here's a remarkable secret: People of excellence transcend the competitiveness of the overcrowded marketplace of mediocrity - only a few rare individuals are truly committed to excellence. Join their rarefied ranks.
2. Be diligent in little things
Sir Patrick has also noted that it is "... in the execution of the seemingly trivial tasks and common rounds of our daily lives that we disclose our true character by which we will be judged". Excellence in great things begins with conscientiousness in these seemingly trivial tasks.
It is easy to make excuses, cut corners and blame others when we fail to execute our simple daily tasks with meticulousness. And many choose to take the easy way out. Refuse to do this, however. Take care to do the menial tasks well.
3. Excellence demands resilience
"For persons with and without disability, I think resilience is an absolutely critical key in achieving success and excellence," according to 2011 award recipient, Vivian Blake.
The blind University of the West Indies graduate and guidance counsellor at the Salvation Army School for the Blind enjoyed sustained applause during his pinning, as highlights of his academic achievements and social advocacy were read.
Mr Blake noted that self-confidence enabled him to overcome others' discriminatory attitudes and their attempts at imposing limitations on what he could do and become.
While you may not have a disability, you'll inevitably encounter obstacles in your career. Expect to face money problems, illness, fear and self-doubt, envious co-workers and friends, as well as seemingly impossible school and work deadlines. Refuse to give up, however, and you, too, may eventually discover that excellence does have its reward.