Achieving and Maintaining Individual Excellence
Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary and Thesaurus defines excellence as the quality of superiority. The work excellence is synonymous with distinction, greatness, flawlessness, impeccability, and perfection (Merriam-Webster, 2006). The pursuit of excellence is the search for perfection. The consensus of today’s society is that nothing is perfect and perfection is unobtainable. Although that may be true, I believe that by reaching for excellence, or perfection, a person will achieve more than would be achieved by reaching for what would be considered attainable. In the helping professions, practitioners are expected to have knowledge of and the ability to practice particular standards of competency. Practitioners are expected to participate in continuing education and professional development to maintain competency. Competency is not the same as excellence. Professional excellence is “described as something that was difficult to measure and to explicitly define” (Courtney, 2005, p. 214). Professional excellence refers to superior standards of presentation, communication, and responsiveness to clients needs. Consistency in the practice of superior standards is related to excellence. Personality and attitude are related to excellence and may be described as “perfectionist” or a desire to be the best (Courtney, 2005). Practitioners of professional excellence often appear to try harder than other competent professionals. Force Field Analysis
The Appendix is a force field analysis that lists nine interrelated and interdependent elements of human service functions. Driving force qualities encourage participants to reach farther. Restraining force qualities encourage mediocrity, and I personally find mediocrity to be unacceptable. Force field analysis of a change goal could be used as an excellent tool to help clients transform their abilities and talents into individual excellence. The human service worker should encourage the client to develop a list of changes that would improve his life. From the list, the client should identify driving forces that would help accomplish the change and restraining forces that would inhibit change. An examination of the force field analysis helps envision differences between the current state and the desired state. Construction of the force field analysis should indicate which driving forces need to be strengthened and which restraining forced need to be counteracted. The client should review the force field analysis daily and recognize the forces that were experienced; if practicable, the client could reinforce the daily exercise by journalizing the experience. Over time, the force field analysis can be expanded and changed as additional driving forces and restraining forces are identified or changed. Cultivating Excellence in the Urban Ghetto
Foster and Seltzer (1986) conducted a case study that “represents an opportunity for professional counselors and career specialists to gain insight into the arduous process of transforming initial abilities into a mature expression of individual excellence” (Foster & Seltzer, 1986, abstract). Individuals from low socioeconomic backgrounds have higher unemployment rates, more substance abuse, and more babies out of wedlock. Individual achievement is influenced by social, psychological, and interpersonal transactions; an individual achieves excellence only through experience of appropriate personal and social interaction. In the middle and upper socioeconomic communities, according to Foster and Seltzer (1986) parental involvement “defines access to early opportunity, monitor progress, offer financial aid, advocate with instructors and the system at large, and provide emotional support and extrinsic motivation for the young person” (Foster & Seltzer, 1986, p. 581). If counselors, career specialists, and human service workers are knowledgeable and vocal about the similarities and...
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