In search of excellence

“Human beings are imperfect”.

Sounds pessimistic, but in reality is just the opposite. This is a sentence about endless opportunities. It means that we have infinite potential to improve and improvise. The potential to be better at almost everything because we can never reach perfection as mortals.

The idea of writing something on this topic came to me after reading a book called “Made in America” by Sam Walton. Sam Walton is the founder of WalMart. This book tells the story of how WalMart grew from scratch to the corporate giant that we know today. What did I learn from the book? A great deal indeed.

As one reviewer wrote, he learned more in this book about management than he did in college. Just like him, I learned that hard work really pays off. I learned that the customer always comes first. I learned that we should learn from everybody and even from our competitors. I learned how important it is to get good people to run our companies. If we find the right talent we should chase that person for months and even years if required.

However, the most important thing that I learned was that we must continuously strive for improvement. The willingness to improve the current practices and procedures must be there all the time. At times we will make mistakes in our attempt to try out new things. But as the writer/philosopher Nassim Taleb said “Mistakes that are reversible aren’t really mistakes”. Mistakes make our systems and processes much more robust.

The strive for excellence is not only limited to our personal self but the culture can be incorporated in whole communities, societies and organizations. Actually, that is exactly how the great companies of the world came to become “great”. They stuck to their core values, but everything else was dynamic. This dynamic nature is what enabled them to adapt and survive while other big companies perished.

Personally, I am trying to identify my weaknesses and make a conscious effort to improve upon that. I know that if I try enough and God willing, I can become a better employee, a better husband, a better son and a better almost everything.

Asif Khan, CFA

Asif Khan is presently a Research Analyst (Financial Sector) for Exotix which is a frontier market focused investment bank. He has more than 6 years of work experience as equity analyst in both buy and sell side roles across Asian frontier markets. Asif is a CFA Charterholder and has a dual major in Finance & Economics from North South University.

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