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Be Excellent in the Next Five Minutes

Tom Peters, a luminary in business thought leadership and author of the seminal book, In Search of Excellence, has constantly evolved his working definition of excellence.
Is excellence a journey?
Is excellence a destination?
To the 77-year old Peters, the answer is a resounding, “No.”  To Peters, “Excellence is what you do in the next five minutes.”
Peter’s succinct definition of excellence has immediately became one of my favorite mantras. Be excellent in the next five minutes can apply to how we show up at work, what we could be thinking while running a marathon, and how we enter a conversation with a loved one.

How does this apply to our strength workouts: 

Sometimes I don’t want to work out. Other times, I’m stressed about what I have to do later in my day after my workout and my thoughts and focus wander. Sometimes I’m actually stressed about what my trainer is going to have me do 20 minutes from now, toward the end of the workout (I know leg press is coming!). My refocusing statement: Be excellent in the next five minutes. Five minutes represents about two exercises. I know I can always focus, execute great form, dig a little bit deeper, and handle some discomfort for five minutes. I don’t need to worry about the totality of the workout, what Maddie is going to have me do on leg press, or the rest of my day, I simply need to be excellent in just the next five minutes.
I’ve ruined workouts by not focusing on the next five minutes and instead, thinking about something 24 hours from now. Similarly, I’ve ruined family time at the cabin, dates in magical places, and important conversations with co-workers, colleagues, and friends. Maybe ruin is too strong of a word, but I definitely have failed to be excellent.

Take home message: In your next workout, consider centering yourself with the mantra Excellence is what I do in the next five minutes.


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