“Pursuing YOUR Excellence” by Gina Kotz, CSQE (ASQ Section 1212 member)

“There they go again…*another* certification/award/achievement/promotion/degree/etc.!” Sound familiar? Does this sentiment (of envy?) resonate with you whenever a peer or former (or even current) colleague makes good in some way?

It doesn’t have to be that way—it can actually be YOU, too—if you are deliberate enough to make it so.

Several years ago, when our daughters were young grade-schoolers, I dedicated myself to growing my communication and leadership skills with a membership in Toastmasters. I never regretted it for a moment. I met some of the most interesting people, many of whom I still keep in contact with today. How did that happen? I decided to make the time, instead of making excuses. With a commitment of about one or two hours a week, I carefully planned my Toastmasters goals. I had a “five year plan”, and I completed it a few months early, even. I earned the Distinguished Toastmasters certification, the highest achievement a Toastmaster can earn. Without those seemingly small investments of time each week, I would not have reached my goal of communication and leadership excellence.

Earning an ASQ Certification, the CSQE designation (Certified Software Quality Engineer), stood as another goal I set for myself. I studied well for the CSQE certification exam, or so I thought—and then, to my surprise, I was one of the 50% of people who fail that (very difficult) exam on the first try. But that temporary setback didn’t discourage me. In fact, it only spurred me on to try again. I kept on dedicating a few hours each week to my goal—pass that exam. I literally quadrupled my efforts. I managed to find not one, not two, but four question banks. I not only took practice exams by area of knowledge, I also took practice exams that lasted four hours—the timeduration of the actual CSQE exam. I also read, re-read, and studied cover to cover (much more closely this time!) Linda Westfall’s Certified Software Quality Engineer Handbook.

So what’s the big deal about these stories? Why should you care?

They are achievements born from an often underestimated and overlooked personality trait: Persistence. Without persistence (and a healthy “can-do” attitude), goals remain just that: Goals. Goals Never Met. Think of something you really hope to achieve: Whether you aspire to be a More Excellent friend, spouse, parent, grandparent, or even a better leader or colleague, or if you are working on a professional certification, advanced degree, or your undergrad degree, it’s all the same: If you are persistent enough to make the time for it, odds are that you can achieve it.

The next time you think about what Excellence means to you, remember that we all get the same number of minutes and hours in each day. It is what you choose to do with your time (and what you choose to do with time that might be spent unwisely) that makes all the difference.

There’s no need to wait until January 1, either. It’s time to book some regular “quality time” with Your Goals. They are calling you to achieve them!

is a technical writer in healthcare and technology with 17+ years of experience. Her passions include networking, process improvement, technical writing, and regulatory compliance. By night, Gina blogs, speaks, teaches, volunteers and helps others find their voice, tools, and resources to pursue their life’s dreams. She enjoys frisbee golf, travel, foreign films, reading, and spending time with her family and their two dogs and one cat. She is thrilled to be a part of the ASQ community. Ms. Kotz can be reached at LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/ginakotz or gina.kotz@gmail.com.

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