E is for Exploration, Enlightenment And Excellence

Many people love to explore and gain enlightenment. Some want to translate what they have learned into delivering excellence. They then aim to repeat the cycle and keep developing.

For some people it is enough to experience an epiphany and to store this in their memory bank. They may then embark on another exploration. They love the joy of learning and piecing things together.

Some people have the urge to go further. They want to translate the learning into doing a piece of work, delivering a project or passing on the knowledge. They then do something they enjoy, aim to be effective and deliver excellence.

Andre Agassi, the former tennis player, described how many people have epiphanies, but the key is to make use of these breakthroughs. He described this in the following way.

“Epiphanies don’t change your life. It’s what you do with them that changes your life.”

Looking back, can you think of a time when you went through some of these stages? This could have been in your personal or professional life.

What was the topic you wanted to explore? How did you gather information and try to make sense of things? At what point did you gain a sense of enlightenment? How did you translate this knowledge into action and aim to deliver excellence?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to complete the following sentences.

Imagine that you want to follow this approach in the future. Let’s explore how you can go through these stages in your own way.


What is the activity you want to explore where you would like to deliver excellence? Different people give different answers to this question. They may want to explore some of the following areas.

How to help people to recover from traumatic experiences … How to earn a living doing satisfying work … How to shape my future in a changing world … How to lead my team to success … How to manage my temper in stressful situations … How to pass on a positive legacy to future generations. 

Imagine you have chosen to focus on a specific topic. You will then aim to gather information, explore and gain enlightenment. It will be important to do this in a way that works for you.

Imagine that you want to pursue a career helping people to recover from traumatic events. Such people may have suffered childhood abuse, crime, injustice, life-changing injuries, victimisation or other experiences.

One approach is to study success in this area. It can be useful:

To study people who have recovered from traumatic events;

To study professionals who help people to recover from traumatic events;

To study first responder organisations that help their people to look ahead and develop skills for managing potentially traumatic events.

You will, of course, choose your own topic to explore on the way towards enlightenment and doing excellent work. If possible, try to define this topic in ‘How to …’ terms.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to complete the following sentences.


There are different meanings to the word enlightenment. One definition is a state of understanding. In Buddhism it may be used to denote a sense of awakening, wisdom and compassion. Here we are using it in a more limited way. This is:

To make sense of things.

You will have your own approach to taking this step. The route you take may also depend on the topic you want to explore.

If you want to make a creative breakthrough with a piece of work, for example, you may gather lots of information. You may then brainstorm lots of ways forward and let the ideas incubate.

You may choose to sleep on the ideas, go for a walk, seek other people’s views or pursue another method. At some point the pieces may fall together and you see the way forwards.

Different people choose different methods to find enlightenment. Some take the following route. They aim to understand the big picture, see patterns and make sense of things. They then clarify the principles they want to follow to achieve their picture of success.

When do you get such breakthroughs? Maybe it is after sleeping on a topic. Maybe it is when doing a certain activity – such as walking, taking a bath or listening to music. Maybe it is doing something else to let the ideas incubate.

Enlightenment comes in many different forms. It also has many different names such as epiphanies, realisations or ‘Aha!’ moments. Such moments are exciting, but not all stand the test of time.

Some people therefore choose to reflect, sleep on it and see if the breakthrough still resonates. Sometimes the idea gets stronger. If so, they then decide whether or not they want to translate it into action.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to complete the following sentences.


Many people gain strength from enlightenment. They may then aim to translate this into doing work that is enjoyable, effective and excellent. Taking this route sometimes calls for good planning.

Imagine, for example, that you want to help people to recover from traumatic events. Studying people who have managed such difficulties successfully, you have found certain themes. Such people sometimes take the following steps.

They learn about the factors that may have contributed to them experiencing the challenging feelings;

They learn how to manage their feelings in ways that help – rather than hurt – themselves or other people;

They learn how to use their experiences to help other people.

Some people may also use the experience to help them become stronger. They choose to use it as an asset rather than them getting caught circles of angst.

Let’s imagine that you have decided to pursue a career helping people to recover from traumatic experiences. Looking ahead, you may make an action plan that involves  do excellent work in this field.

This could involves taking some of the following steps. The first three involve doing due diligence and making sure you want to set out on this journey.


My action plan involves
taking the following steps:

To clarify the professional qualities required to do excellent work in the field;

To clarify the personal qualities required – such as compassion, resilience and the ability to keep myself healthy – to do excellent work in the field;

To ensure that I am prepared to accept both the pluses and minuses involved – such as the emotional implications – when working in the field;  

To get the required professional qualifications – plus any other relevant qualifications – that will allow me to work in the field;

To work in recovery units, rehabilitation programmes and other places where I can learn from the best practitioners in the field; 

To work with clients and make sure I do no harm by, for example, following the principles of safe trauma therapy; 

To build on what works by learning from my clients, from people who successfully manage trauma and from the best practitioners in the field;

To clarify the principles that work and, if appropriate, begin to build my own approach to doing good work in the field;

To share this knowledge by describing the successful principles and giving evidence that prove these work; 

To continue to do work that is considered excellent by my clients, colleagues and other practitioners in the field.

Let’s return to the topic where you may want to deliver excellence. This could be in your personal or professional life.

You may want to do this when encouraging people, performing songs, solving technical problems or doing another activity. You may want to do it when acting as a parent, educator, crisis manager, leader or in another role.

Imagine you have gone through the stages of exploration and enlightenment. How can you then do your best to deliver excellence? What will be the benefits – for yourself and other people – of achieving this aim?

If you wish, try tackling the final exercise on this theme. This invites you to complete the following sentences.

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