Thursday, April 8, 2010

Excellence is an uncommon and noble thing

By Dan Danford
Principal, Family Investment Center

I just came from a Missouri Western State University press conference where they announced initial AACSB accreditation (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) for the Craig School of Business. That’s a huge milestone because it puts a business degree from Western on par with some of the best in the nation. The business school has really come a long way since I graduated in 1978, and even further since my father did earlier that decade.

Only 600 schools worldwide share this distinction, and they include Duke, Harvard, Stanford, and Yale. It’s testimony to quality faculty, students, administrators, and community members. Everyone in our community can be proud, and it’s one more proof of Western’s commitment to quality education. Other programs are similarly recognized nationwide.

I walked out of that press conference with Ted Allison, Executive Director of the St. Joseph Area Chamber of Commerce. Just this morning, I received their monthly newsletter announcing stellar performance in their periodic review. In fact, the U.S. Chamber awarded a 5 Star accreditation, an upgrade to their highest possible score. Again, it’s a remarkable accomplishment by another high-impact local group.

I don’t think we do a very good job of recognizing achievement in St. Joseph. I can’t put my finger on it exactly, but it just seems to me that we shrug off success. People do something really great, and we stifle a collective groan. Maybe it’s the Show Me thing, or maybe we’ve just become jaded by narcissistic folks who claim a false greatness. Or maybe anyone else’s excellence highlights our own insecurity.

Whatever it is, it’s too bad. Excellence is as rare as Haley’s comet or George Brett’s baseball swing. Excellence is – by definition – an uncommon and noble thing. It should be celebrated. We should take inspiration from unusual success (wherever it occurs) and attempt to copy it in our own lives. As a community, we should see it, applaud it, learn from it, and apply it to our own circumstance.

Heartland Health, our local hospital system, was recently named a winner of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. Honestly, that’s one of the most prestigious awards in the whole world. I know they are justifiably celebrating out on Faraon Street, and later with a group in Washington, D.C. Every one of us should share that pride right along with all their employees and administration.

Just to keep the record straight, I’m not a Heartland board member or even especially close to the organization. But, come on, folks, we’re talking the Malcolm freaking Baldrige award! Let’s give credit where credit is due.

In these brief comments, I’ve noted three St. Joseph groups who achieved remarkable success in recent weeks or months. Excellence, even. They make us all look good, and our community should find appropriate ways to see, applaud, learn, and apply. We’ll all be better for it.

Excellence is a very good thing. Really.

For the record, again, I am treasurer of the St. Joseph Area Chamber of Commerce and proudly serve on the Missouri Western State University Board of Governors. And I welcome excellence wherever I find it.

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