In my last of three posts about Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership, I finish examining the tagline: “Empower. Lead. Excel.” This amazing program touched the lives of over 9,500 young people last year across the world.

What does it take to EXCEL? Apparently, I’m really into acrostics right now. I’ve found that, no matter what the age level, some common ingredients go into excellence.

Photo Courtesy Mark Zimmerman, CC

Of course, the definition of excellence isn’t some static group of words; excellence lives inside of each of us. Our own expectations and experiences shape what it means to “excel”. As we achieve standards of excellence we’ve set, the bar moves and our expectations evolve.

At each level, though, we must strive to EXCEL through:


Passion is a required ingredient. Competitive nature will only get you so far! If you’re engaged in a work that makes you feel alive, you’re on the right track to excel.

Xtra Effort

If you’re not willing to give it all you’ve got, how likely is it that you’ll stand out or distinguish yourself? Imagine swimming against a gentle current; it doesn’t take a lot to maintain your position. But to get upstream you’ve gotta kick it up a notch!


Sometimes you’ve just got to step out there! It takes courage to propose or pursue something new. Sometimes it means going it alone or respectfully disagreeing with over-cautious advisors and peers.


Empowerment can be offered externally by a superior at work or an administrator at school or grow organically as you gather momentum. Either way, empowerment is crucial to a person’s ability to excel!


OK, it’s a catch-all! But leadership means making more leaders. In order to excel, you’ve got to think beyond yourself and your tenure wherever you’re excelling. To truly excel means leaving a legacy of leadership where you are.

Think through these things as you are striving to excel at your job or in your calling– not just for yourself but for those you lead! They need some Encouragement, Xtra Effort, Compassion, Empowerment, and Leadership from you, too.

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2 thoughts on “Excel

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