As you observe those who excel, be on the lookout for specific qualities that set them apart, qualities you would like to implement in your own life.  Qualities such as the following:

Personal Discipline:  Those who excel are people who, first of all, take charge of themselves.  They plan their work and then they work their plan.  They are neither burning out nor coasting along; they have achieved a balance in their lives.  They know they have physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual needs; and they see to it that those needs are met.

Vision:  Above-average people have developed the foresight to see how things will work out as a result of their policies and methods.  They are always looking ahead, so they also have the insight to make good decisions.

Optimism:  People who excel are not "downers."  Of course they have their moments of discouragement, but for the most part they respond to life with a cheerful spirit and an attitude that "this problem can be solved."  An optimist laughs to forget; a pessimist forgets to laugh!  The pessimist sees a difficulty in every opportunity and the optimist sees an opportunity in every difficulty.

A Sense of Adventure:  Above-average people create their own adventures and engineer a large measure of their own happiness.  These people take risks, push themselves to the limit, and stretch their minds and bodies in pursuit of their goals.

Courage :  Above-average people know that it is always too soon to quit.  That excellence demands courage in the face of defeat.  Many games have been won in the bottom of the ninth because of one pitch-hit single.  The highest degree of courage is seen in the people who are most fearful but refuse to let fear defeat them.  However fearful they may have been, God's leaders in every generation have been commanded to be of good courage.  Remember God's word to Joshua, "Be strong and of good courage...I will not fail you nor forsake you."

Humility:  People of excellence do not talk excessively about themselves or their many accomplishments.  They are content to let their track records to the talking.  More than likely, you will have to pry stories of great achievements out of them.  The apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15, "I am the least of the apostles, and do not even deserve to be called an apostle."

Humor:  Above-average people know that "a merry heart does good like a medicine."  Humor can relax the most difficult of situations and create an atmosphere of good-will.  Perhaps one of the most outstanding qualities of above-average people is their ability to laugh at themselves.  A good laugh at oneself is better than a tonic.  It saves many difficult situations.

Confidence:  People of excellence know that if they don't believe in themselves, no one else will believe in them either.  Self-confidence is not unspiritual.  Quite the contrary, it is an honest belief in the gifts and talents given to you by God.

Anger:  Above-average people are healthy enough to get angry, but angry at the right things--like injustice, incompetence (especially in themselves), and poor use of time and money.  This quality of answer was present in our Lord when He swept the moneychangers from the temple and when He spoke so harshly of the ancient laws that had such little regard for people.  The apostle Paul said, "Be angry, but sin not."

Patience:  Above-average people are patient.  They are careful listeners.  Only after all the facts are in do they make a decision.

Integrity:  A life of excellence is one which has trustworthiness as its base.  Above-average people can be trusted.  Their word means something.  They can be counted on to deliver.  They have a deep sense of personal responsibility.  They will not cheat on themselves, their family, or their work.

Ted W. Engstrom, The Pursuit of Excellence, (Grand Rapids:  Zondervan, 1982).  p. 52, 58-60, 65, 66.

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