Constructive discontent (Revitalizing your Corporate Culture, Franklin Ashby), is the art of continuing to look for ways to improve one's work. Example: you finish writing a document or a memo and you think its pretty good, makes all the right points. But something's nagging at you. It feels like something's missing. But what is it? I dont mean to sound paranoid, or to give the impression that I'm always looking for what's wrong. That would be very depressing after a while. And I'm not a perfectionist because that can be very stressful. However, I do believe in excellence and in exceptional work. And so at least in our work, I challenge us to ask the simple question: "What's missing from this picture, and how can I make this better, to put out the highest quality work that I can?" Or, "Why doesn't this feel right?"
All of this is born out of my feeling that we all too frequently rely on what we did before, because it worked back then, and why not just do it again. Or we just cant figure out how to make something better so we settle for something average that's just o.k. Surely, there is a benefit to the concept of best practices and repeatable processes, all of which fly in the face (philosophically at least) of striving for creativity and innovation and originality. I guess it comes down to balance and pride. Processes are good for creating structure and frameworks. The satisfaction of knowing that you came up with a kick-ass idea and fine tuned it to make it come to life and practically sing to you is all about striving for excellence. Ego plays a role in this somewhere, and so does your energy level, because striving for excellence can be exhausting. Remember what Aristotle said, "Excellence is not an act, its a habit." Let's try and make it a habit.